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If you did a poll – and Senator Berger surely has – you’d probably get overwhelming support for this proposition: “Should public school teachers get an 11 per cent raise in exchange for giving up tenure?”
Therein lies the challenge to Senate Democrats. Berger says: “You say you want higher teacher pay. Here it is.”  But here’s the trap: Teachers have to give up “tenure,” which most people think means that after you’ve been in a job for a while you can’t be fired, no matter how lazy, unproductive or incompetent you are.
Democrats have an education job to do here. They have to define what “tenure” really is. Not automatic protection for incompetent teachers, but minimal protection against arbitrary and capricious personnel decisions by principals and administrators who may not like a teacher for any number of reasons that have nothing to do with their performance or ability.
Like, say, a teacher who speaks up about a lousy principal, or objects to a bad central-office decision, or raises an uncomfortable question about school policies, or is so good an incompetent principal feels threatened or – yes – is a member of the “wrong” political party.
One education expert I talked to described Berger’s proposal this way: “It’s another one of their manipulative political moves. People automatically think ‘yay! Higher teacher pay!’ But that’s such a small part of the picture. Lack of tenure turns teachers into obedient minions. It completely eliminates creativity, innovation, teacher leadership, and progress within schools. If teachers are too worried about their jobs to speak up, education hits a stalemate. Which in turn makes all these ‘liberal ideas’ (read: common core) nearly impossible to implement successfully. Which is exactly what they want. Raising teacher pay is great, but they’re doing it to hide the fact that they’re throwing teacher autonomy and creativity in the trash.”
Long ago, a wise man gave me good advice about politics: Never underestimate the intelligence of voters, and never overestimate the information they have.
To escape this trap, Democrats need to fill the information gap.


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3 comments on “Tenure Trap

  1. Anonymous says:

    There are FAR more people in our country that work in jobs other than the teaching/education profession. These people don’t have and never have had “tenure”. If they’re fired for many of the reasons you’re suggesting here in your post, they have an avenue to resolve it. That’s how it’s been in the private sector for…well, forever. I was a manager and supervised as few as 8 people and as many as 60. I can’t imagine how difficult it would have been for me if some of these people would have had “tenure” like what the teachers in many states have and like what some of the teachers in North Carolina want. Many of the people I managed were college graduates…professionals. However, people are people regardless of their education or profession. Some are less productive, less committed, poorer employees than others. Those that just didn’t get the job done under company guidelines didn’t realize continued employment. That made for better employees because it solidified the importance of maintaining excellent safety, quality, housekeeping and productivity…in that order. The same should apply to our teachers. I know you want us all here to believe that tenure is somehow just a safeguard so that teachers can’t be fired for not being liked by some administrator or for not holding the right political beliefs etc. But, Gary, that’s not all tenure is. You say you’ve talked to one education expert. I’ve talked to far more than that and the vast majority of them believe that teachers should be no different than any other employee in our nation and should be held to the same standards as any other employee in our nation and if they are inappropriately dismissed or otherwise disciplined, they have many, many avenues available for them to resolve that.

    So, if I was a teacher (which I absolutely would NEVER be because of the culture today), I’d choose the raise which would at least give me a little more money to have to put up with the unbelievable challenges they face in today’s public education system.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Wow, Gary you just gotta tell whoppers to get out of this one. I lived here in this state a few more years than you. Democrats have controled the state for over 100 years. Republicans have now had the state for a year and a half. Lets see over 100 years vs 1.5 years. Teachers are suffering from low pay, who should get the blame, Democrats ( ruled for over 100 years ) or Republicans one and a half years. Tenure. It aint what you said. Not every teacher gets tenure. They have to be qualified and served 3 years. Once that happens and they are deemed good enough for tenure then they almost have to commit some felony to lose their job. Here’s the test. Gary tell us Tapsters how many tenured teachers have lost their jobs in the last 100 years. An average raise of 11%. All the time Democrats were in charge they would give if any at all a meager 2 or 3 percent raise. Why do Democrats hate Teachers? Why have Democrats waged a war on Teachers? As the brains behind the education governor Senior Hunt, I think we are due an explanation as to why Democrats now hate teachers. Wow an average of 11% and some will get a 20% raise. I know who the teachers I know will be voting for.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Just a great post, Choo. Gary won’t respond, of course. That’s not his style. Posting hate…posting negatives about republicans…posting things against Governor McCrory and the republican-led state house and senate for purely political reasons…THAT’S his style. Skewed information…lies…inappropriate labeling of white people for their racism…THAT’S Gary’s style.

    And, he gets accolades and kudos from his left-leaning friends. It’s how he makes his living. He believes the B.S. he puts here about as much as you and I do…but hey, that’s where the bucks come from.

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