Comments about ‘Teacher tenure at issue in improving education’

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Published: Monday, Dec. 19 2011 11:00 p.m. MST

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Midwest Mom
Soldiers Grove, WI

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.

Pendleton, OR

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.

West Valley, UT

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 vacation times.

Midwest Mom
Soldiers Grove, WI

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.

Elmo, UT

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.


"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.

Provo, UT

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.

Farr West, Utah

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.

A Scientist
Provo, UT

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!

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