Sunday, May 11, 2008

Tenure for K-12 Teachers is Bad Policy

Tenure in educational institutions below the college level is an obscene concept.

A college can be described as a colloquy of fiefdoms. In universities professors are expected to conduct research free from biased criticism to advance the state of knowledge in their field.

Tenure is or should be granted based on the demonstrated advancement and the capacity for future advancement of knowledge.

Classroom teaching is an adjunct to all this and demonstrates the professor's ability to communicate the ideas which make up the body of knowledge. The college professor works from a base salary augmented by research grants.

In the K-12 field, tenure is based nearly exclusively on the time in position. Even before that time has been reached, discharge of the teacher based on classroom performance is nearly impossible for a school board to conclude.

K-12 teachers receive monetary increases usually based on a matrix with term of service along one axis and additional educational attainment along the other. For the most part the additional courses taken are in the education field and not in the subject matter taught. Methodological courses are taken in the evening and during the summer. Some high school teachers do work towards graduate degees to obtain and extend subject matter mastery.

It is subject matter mastery as well as a love of both the material being taught and the ability to communicate that affection and respect for the pupils that define effective instruction.

Independent research such as is accomplished by professors at the college level is not part of teacher duties at the levels below college. Tenure is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for effective teaching.

It is an element of the closed shop of Public Education, which along with the lack of periodic testing of teacher Subject Matter knowledge (recertification), the dumbing down of standardized tests by the state agencies and the norming up of scores, has helped to create the sub prime results we see.

These outcomes are hindering the nation's performance in the 21st Century world economy. Tenure may provide security in teacher employment. It affects job performance in the rest of the economy



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