Editorial: Tenure Isn’t for High School Teachers

Initially, tenure is meant for professors at a college, to ensure the safety of their job if they were to research and publish something controversial. Tenure itself is not necessary for high school teachers – they simply aren’t allowed to be fired without just cause, which is still true without tenure. Teachers in high school are not taking leave to do research or publishing about hard hitting controversial topics, therefore they don’t need to be protected under tenure.

Essentially, once a professor gets tenure they get to choose how long they work. Although that is nice for a professors’ security, it creates a situation for potentially bad teaching in a high school setting with few consequences.

As of now, a high school teacher only needs to be employed at a school for eighteen months to get tenure. Eighteen months is not enough time to see whether or not a teacher is eligible to get job safety for years and years to come. This job safety has resulted in teachers not performing as well as they might normally. It is  relatively easy to work hard for those eighteen months and prove themselves; but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a high enough standard or long enough time to evaluate a teacher’s performance, which could possibly decrease after being awarded tenure.

When someone wants to fire a tenured teacher, it not only takes a great deal of time, but also a great deal of money. For example, a tenured teacher in Brentwood Union School District allegedly pulled a five-year-old child off of his chair and then repeatedly kicked the child. The child was also a special needs student. This teacher was not dismissed, simply transferred to another school; the district chose not to fire her because the process was much too long and expensive.

Solely keeping a teacher in the school system because it’s more convenient is not a good reason, and it proves the faults in the tenure program. Tenure creates more possibly unfortunate and difficult situations than it does good.

Although tenure isn’t actually a “life-time guarantee” it does mean that a teacher can’t be fired without due process. However, it is purposefully strenuous to lay-off a tenured teacher. The administration that wishes to fire a tenured teacher must present evidence that said teacher has been unprofessional or is inefficient. However, procuring evidence of this inadequate work ethic is challenging – in some cases members of the administration will sit in on one or two of the teacher’s classes, unfortunately teachers often act differently in this type of setting. Ultimately, these views are falsified.

On occasion a student, or a group of students, will have legitimate complaints about a teacher they have. There are some teachers that no longer live up to standards of “good and competent” teaching, but (from a student’s perspective) it feels as if the administration rarely listens to what students have to say, writing it off as students simply being frustrated with a large workload.

Due to these virtually guaranteed positions, teachers take lessons and what they teach into their own hands – sometimes this is beneficial for students to learn in a creative and new way, but sometimes this results in students doing most of their actual learning at home, reading through a textbook and hoping that the material they study is what is on their future tests. Occasionally, Students end up feeling lost, confused and like they didn’t get anything out of the class – which in itself isn’t fair because their peers may have been much more prepared due to a different teacher for the same class that still had the stress of proving themselves before receiving tenure.

The Editorial Board votes 9-0 that high school teachers shouldn’t be provided tenure.