Every time Deseret News publishes an article or an editorial on education in
Utah, I feel so unappreciated and get so discouraged it makes me want to leave
teaching and go make real money in industry.And I am an
award-winning teacher!Why in the world should we continue to
tolerate the attacks, the low pay, the disrespect we receive from students and
parents alike (we know where they learn to respect teachers, don't we?), and the
continued erosion of our compensation, benefits, and professional status?Radical education reformists better be careful. You are reforming some
of the best people out of the profession!
This article and many of thge comments are based on an incorrect assumption.
Public school teachers in Utah do NOT HAVE TENURE. Any teacher may be fired for
poor job performance. "Career Educator" status just prevents firing
for no reason or for political reasons - much like federal civil service laws.
There are places where firing ineffective teachers is extraordinarily difficult.
Witness the "rubber rooms" which NYC had until recently, where
teachers who the district didn't want to allow to teach because of bad behavior
were paid to lounge around (they've since found more productive ways to use
these folks but the process for firing hasn't really changed).However, this is not the case in most of America and it is definitely not the
case in Utah. The firing process in Utah is fairly straightforward, all teachers
face regular evaluations, and nobody has the kind of tenure the article is
talking about.Trying to blame teachers for our education woes in
this state is pretty ridiculous.
"This is a long overdue common sense fix to the problem of SOME teachers
being ineffective. No longer will the teachers union protective policies defend
the indefensible. While no process for weeding out the bad teachers will be
perfect, any will be better than the current system of making it (almost)
impossible to ever fire any teacher."Absolute Rubbish!The process is ALREADY in place. It is not "almost" impossible to
fire a teacher. I have witnessed the exact opposite during my career.In my 20 years in the teaching profession, I have taught under the leadership
of several amazing administrators who have ALL used the orderly termination
process currently in place and have removed both provisional and career
educators. Some may find it interesting to learn that in two of these cases,
the UEA did NOT come to the rescue of a member who was terminated because of the
clear documentation presented by these administrators. I have also
had the unfortunate experience of teaching in the same school as an ineffective
administrator who played the "blame the union" game instead of taking
decisive action.Strong and effective leadership is all that is
needed for the so-called "tenure" issue.
Tenure-status granted to an employee, usually after a probationary period,
indicating that the position or employment is permanent. (dictionary.com) The writer, Miss Mercedes White, needs to know the definition of the
words she is writing about. NO UTAH TEACHER HAS A PERMANENT
POSITION. Thus, no teacher has tenure.Now that we have that clear.
The teachers just can't get fired because they tap a student on the leg with a
violin bow. There is a process that every school district has for firing
teachers. If administrators will not follow through with the process, it sounds
like you have an administrator problem not a teacher problem. Personally, each school could simply vote on who should be let go. Survey
students (secondary), parents (primary), teachers, and administrators, then vote
someone off the island at least every 3 years. If there is no one needing to be
voted off then don't vote anyone off. Teacher Survivor, just make sure we get
paid at least a million dollars.
Strange how it never occurs to the politicos in Utah that one way of improving
teacher quality would be to address the abysmal pay scale in your state. As for
so-called "tenure," in Wisconsin, there is no tenure; only "just
cause" reasons for termination after a three year "at-will"
employment agreement. Just cause meaning a teacher who does not perform to the
terms of the contract. I'm sure that Utah's "tenure" is similar.
It's the job of administrators to evaluate their teachers. If a teacher needs
to go, then I'm sure that even the most ardent teacher-basher would agree that
legally binding contracts must be addressed. I, for one, am very disturbed by
this constant drum-beat against teachers and the institution of public
education. It is one of the best social goods that we practice in this country.
I suggest that some of you do a better job of informing yourselves of the
facts, rather than merely engaging in political gossip.
If we're firing teachers because the students are underperforming can we fire
parents too?Parental involvement is the primary indicator of how
well a student will do in school. Teachers do their part in molding
young minds, but they only have students for a few hours per day. For the rest
of that time the parents are in control. If parents don't do their part to
inspire, encourage and enlighten their children how do they expect teachers to
succeed?If parents don't want to bother with their kids perhaps we
should convert to an academy style schooling system where children are kept at
the school throughout the semester and only allowed to go home during scheduled
I realize I don't know all the facets of this argument, but I do think it would
be beneficial, in some cases, to be able to send teachers down the road more
easily. I was cursed with a teacher in elementary school who could not seem to
explain anything in a manner that I could easily understand. My two oldest boys
had the same problem when they also had her. She had been the discussion topic
of how to cope and how to encourage in spite of the teacher at many PTA
meetings.I was not a poor student in terms of intelligence but I did
fail in my duty to work hard. I was generally able to get decent grades and
subject mastery without learning about good study habits. I finished high school
with a 3.83 GPA. My sons were not so lucky. Probably the difference was my wise
parents but I really tried.
Wow! Citing Michelle Rhee as an icon of educational reform virtue? I suggest
people read more about this controversial self-promoter. Rhee misrepresented her
students' performance on standardized tests by some 40 percentage points. That
inflated résumé is what got her the job of education chancellor,
even though she had only 3 years of teaching experience. Rhee then proceeded to
fire hundreds of teachers who, ironically, may have been doing a better job than
she had done. Has anyone ever produced evidence of why these "bad"
teachers were fired? At best, Rhee's own students tested at 52% of grade level.
After her tenure as chancellor, scandal surrounded the revelation that some 96
of DC schools had an abnormal number of wrong-to-right erasures on their tests.
Rhee, claiming credit for improvement, handed out awards to these schools, based
on those questionable results. The administrators and teachers were never
investigated. Despite Rhee's minimal teaching experience, lack of success in
addressing minority students and her ongoing policy of misrepresentation, Rhee
continues to be the darling of conservatives who promote her as an expert. She
continues to be involved in education "reform," at a very handsome
profit to herself.
Under current Utah law, tenure doesn't exist. New teachers are evaluated twice
a year for three years. After that they're evaluated once a year. That's the
law. Anyone who says otherwise is trying to sell something.The
Jordan District evaluation system uses multiple data points - dozens of
indicators in multiple domains. The results are norm referenced, and low
performing teachers lose their jobs. I've never seen an article on it.Now here's the sad truth about the market for teachers. The Jordan District
web-site currently lists nine unfilled full time teaching jobs that require
highly qualified specialists, and serve at risk students. Unfortunately, the
available pay doesn't meet the demand, and the classes are being taught by long
term substitutes.It seems reasonable to suggest that Tenure isn't
the root cause of Utah's problem. It might be in some other place, but a
thorough evaluation of the system currently in place points to other problems.
I've been raised to expect that kind of fact finding and analysis from the
Even value-added scores, while better than just using the average score, are not
accurate for measuring a teacher's effectiveness.As a male
elementary teacher, I regularly get dumped on with a bigger share of behavior
problems, especially problem boys. One or two are OK, but when several are in
the class, it makes the class much more difficult to progress for the others.
Should I be blamed for this?!
collegestudent25:You don't fear losing your job because you probably
don't have multiple kids at home, a mortgage and multiple bill payments. You're
not paying for kids in college or on a mission, nor are you worried about
finding another low paying job elsewhere. Almost anything equals teacher
starting pay.You probably haven't been forced to work after school
hours for no pay nor compensation with a threat of firing or a
"trouble" mark on your records. You haven't been pink-slipped because
of someone's buddy wanting your position. I have. You probably also have a
supportive administrator (since they hired you just this year) and not a putz
who dictates ridiculous things that hurt education and require extra, unpaid
labor.Don't worry. Your time will come.My suggestion to
you is to get out now, while you still can afford it.My suggestion
to all is to not get into teaching, and if you just must because it is your
"dream", then don't stay in Utah.That's a Utah teacher's
To CHS and Goet...I agree. The term "tenure" is probably misused here
but in actuality, teachers do have it. You have to get caught with your hands
in the cookie jar or being inappropriate with a student to get fired. With that
said, yes...there are processes in place to remove teachers or at least
encourage them to get out of the profession if they are not doing their jobs
effectively enough. They are just not being utilized. Why not? As an educator
who has seen enough lousy teaching (and witnessed some great teaching as well)
it comes down to administrators who don't want the hassle. Sad to say.
Yet another anti-teacher article from DN based on false premises.Utah does not have teacher tenure.This entire article is bogus.
Name one school district in Utah that has "tenure." Name
one school district in Utah that doesn't have in place policies to terminate
ineffective teachers that the school board (who is elected by the local
constituency) agreed to in negotiations with their management and labor parties.
Name one administrator in Utah who does not have at his/her
disposal the policies and procedure to deal with problem employees, that if
followed can result in the termination of poor performing employees. I'll wait.
Oh cry me a river some of you. PLEEEZZZZZ ... do you hear cops, firefighters,
hospital employees, utility company workers, etc. crying for tenure and trying
to use the scare tactics that some of you are arguing about for teachers. Get
real here. I don't buy it and most of America doesn't buy it.
I am a first year teacher that does not yet have tenure. I do not fear losing
It looks as if a few good super men and women are truly on the way to save the
day. It's long past time to get serious about corruption wherever it's found.
Good teachers need support to do their work, unimpeded by stuck-on-stupid
philosophies and policies that dumb down our students and the educational system
generally.Also, to continually blame parents for lack of better student
performance is an unfair accusation a great deal of the time. Parents for
generations have been shunted into nonpolicy-making positions, keeping them out
of the way of determined progressiveand detrimentalpractices, not allowed to
participate fully in fixing perceived problems. With so many two-earner families
these days by sad necessity, there's only so much energy (and time to use it) to
go around. As a teacher, I know my time with children is a sacred trust to help
beleaguered parents achieve hopeful goals for their children. This is a
complicated situation requiring much consideration and cooperation from all
sides. I'm glad to see a revival of serious attention to an inherently broken
Eliot: not shortsighted at all. It happens quite a bit. Teachers are fired
for not following lock stock with the principal or just because of a whiny
parent that didn't get their way.Administrators would rather have a
cheap teacher that does what they say than an expensive one, albeit highly
effective, that doesn't bend to their every whim.
Here is a reason why tenure is so important. When teachers are unfairly
accused, and they are unfairly accused, then tenure protects them. When parents
who have never come into a classroom to observe/volunteer/assist take little
Timmy's word about the teacher..then tenure protects them. Every profession has
due process. The federal government and federal laws protect against
discrimination in the workplace so what is the big deal about tenure? There are
rules in place in every school district that deal with removal/replacement of
teachers when they are not doing their jobs. Administrators have the power and
the responsibility to evaluate teachers (using in place guidelines established
by school districts) and to remove them if they are not doing their jobs. If
the administrator thinks it is too much work to go through the process then get
rid of the administrator. But for those of you who want to think that the
teacher's union is against this idea you are dead wrong. The UEA is in favor of
having a quality teacher in place in every classroom. Just make certain that
when you do decide to remove a teacher that there is proper justification.
The suggestion that during difficult economic times experienced teachers will be
fired in order to balance budgets is very short sighted. Administrators, who do
not have tenure, must also answer for the performance of their schools. If they
fire their best teachers then their schools will surely suffer and they will
lose their jobs as well. Senator Osmond's effort to draft a quality bill to
address this very important issue is commendable.
By outright removal of tenure, you will destroy the education of Utah's
students. You will put teachers, already underpaid and overworked, at the mercy
of every administrator. They will become the servants and slaves to their every
whim. Many great teachers will simply leave the profession or the state. It is
okay to hold teachers accountable, but there must be a very defined path for
firing, as well as for retention. Teachers have to deal with out of control
students, and parents, accusations must be proven and not alleged. Many times a
teacher is given a very low performing student, or a student who misses school.
This can occur in the middle or end of the school year. Measuring change and
growth in a students progress is more important than the average score at the
end of the year.
This is a long overdue common sense fix to the problem of SOME teachers being
ineffective. No longer will the teachers union protective policies defend the
indefensible. Teaching is a vitally important profession- for our
children, not as a guaranteed job for teachers.While no process for
weeding out the bad teachers will be perfect, any will be better than the
current system of making it (almost) impossible to ever fire any teacher.The good teachers deserve our thanks and support, but the bad ones need
to be weeded out immediately!
Tenure is ridiculous. No other industry has tenure. I really don't understand
how it makes sense. Next, teachers should get paid a lot more. 30,000 per year
is ridiculous for somebody with a college degree. If we want to attract good
people we need to pay them better. As for firing more experienced teachers who
make more if budget cuts are necessary; we could easily write into legislation
that when bedget cuts are necessary schools must cut teachers by level of
performance and nothing more. Then you cut your less effective teachers first
and the better ones will never have to worry, regardless of pay.
I have a great idea for improving student achievement and it as nothing to do
with teachers. Parents. Parent involvement is the greatest indicator for how
well a student will do. Numbers for parent Conferences are down and performance
numbers are down. Is there a correlation there? Now I know there are some bad
teachers out there, but blaming education alone won't help. Look in the mirror
parents, are you really taking and doing your part in your children's education?
Or is it easier to blame a teacher because billy can't read or write?
Another thing to consider: tenured teachers (and indeed, many salaried industry
and business workers) are often given yearly raises that reflect loyalty and/or
good performance. With a 3-5 year contract, when budget cuts come around, the
higher paid, experienced teachers will be let go. So yeah, let's implement this.
Fewer people will want in, and you'll always have inexperienced, less
knowledgeable instructors trying to educate the children.
I'm 100% in support of government or private business having a simple way to
fire ineffective workers. Teachers have tried to convince the public for
decades that they should be treated differently. Its time they are treated like
any other member of the workforce if they are not doing their job.
Tenure should never be rated as better or more deserving in promotions or
benefits. There is only one reason to ever consider tenure, in the event of a
blanket RIF (reduction in force). We must give them some credit for being
handicapped and locked in to their job for putting up with the corruption,
deceptions, mismanagement of funds in the education system for 30-40 years of
service. The best thing to improve education is get government out
of it, no more blackmail funding from government to control the class rooms in
how eduction is taught, what is taught, and put it under the control of state
laws. Abolish federal education funding. Education is not a right of an occupant
of this country, it is a privilege of rights as a citizens that tax paying
citizens should control and fund.A good eduction comes from good
baseline controls at local levels of government as it should be. A national
education system under the control of government is indoctrination and
socialist. And we have entered that domain with all the blackmail controls
enacted by the government education funding system to include the NCLB failures
creating a nationally controlled education system.
Tenure is fine "IF", and that is a BIG IF! Certain standards are met!
If they aren't, DUMP THEM!!! Teachers should never have JOB GUARENTEE, NOBODY
SHOULD! Earn your keep or get out! Same with No Child Left Behind! The system is
a JOKE! Kids who fall behind or are lazy should REPEAT GRADES!!! They should
FAIL! It's that simple!!! Produce or don't advance, teach and have kids learn or
GET FIRED! This can be measured through student testing and class averages on
test scores! It's that simple!