Monday, June 30, 2008

Tenure troubles

At its best, tenure is a benefit given to good teachers to give them a greater level of job security. But at its worst, tenure can make it nearly impossible to get rid of a problem instructor. Allan Gerstenlauer, a superintendent at Longwood School District on Long Island in New York, has his own horror story, which he shared with the Associated Press recently. An English teacher at Longwood continues to receive a $113,000 annual salary, despite pleading guilty earlier this month to drunken driving. Hey, you might say, that's a serious offense for someone teaching young people, but shouldn't the teacher get a second chance? Well, it happens to be that teacher's fifth DUI arrest in the past seven years. She's facing a likely prison sentence but won't step down from her job. And it's just one of many similar cases across the country. The teacher's union, of course, has no problem pressing her case to keep her job. Said Richard Iannuzzi, president of New York State United Teachers, "Tenure provides the right to due process. It is consistent with the American way; a person is innocent until proven guilty." Just one problem, Richard. She HAS been proven guilty. According to the AP story, it can cost taxpayers $250,000 to get rid of one incompetent tenured teacher, and because some teachers remain on the payroll even after being found guilty of serious crimes, arbitration hearings on attempts to fire them sometimes have to be conducted inside prisons. The teacher with the five DUI cases will have a hearing in August. Until then, she's on paid leave. Nice for her. Without tenure, it would be much easier to get rid of teachers who violate the law or moral standards. Said tenure opponent B. Jason Brooks of the Foundation for Education Reform & Accountability, "Paying teachers and school administrators based on how well they do their job rather than how long they've had their job makes sense." Agreed.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can understand the value of tenure at the university level... Considering how professors are often encouraged to push the envelope in challenging the status quo... But this sounds like a high school. Seeing as how we try to make our k-12 education sterile and as politically correct as possible, coupled with a powerful teachers union... This hallowed institution of academia seems woefully out of place.

June 30, 2008 at 7:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you really surprised? The legislature has been held hostage for years by the teachers union in this state. Hence high property taxes, low outcomes. Great system for one group without real accountability.
Combined with the annual rants from the PSEA that they are underpaid and overworked (summer vacation anyone). Number one problem in the state of Pennsylvania and no one in sight that will rectify it.

July 3, 2008 at 1:39 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

I am a proponent of paying our teachers well, but I think there should be a system for rewarding the good teachers and removing those that don't make the grade, so to speak. Just being able to get out of college with a teaching certificate is, in itself, no guarantee that someone is a good teacher. I've seen plenty of really dumb people with college degrees. And, also, some system needs to be developed that would eliminate teachers' right to strike. We should not have our children held as pawns in a standoff between a teachers union and a school board.

July 3, 2008 at 8:41 AM  

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