Comments about ‘In our opinion: A welcome change from California on teacher tenure rules’

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Published: Thursday, June 12 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Howard Beal
Provo, UT

Before all the people get excited about getting rid of tenure in Utah, teachers in Utah don't have tenure.

Irony Guy
Bountiful, Utah

The end of tenure means the end of protection. A teacher's job will now be prey to any disgruntled parent or disaffected student. Academic freedom means nothing. The profession is being wrecked. In my opinion, anyone considering going into teaching should have his head examined.

Hayden, ID

The winners are children. The losers are teacher's unions who always protect incompetence!

The Real Maverick
Orem, UT

This is what happens when people allow an activist judge place ideology ahead of common sense.

Without tenure, teachers will flock to the richer schools that don't have much minority. This leaves the schools that are poorer or have a lot of minority, with the leftovers.
It means that the schools with the greatest need of good teachers will be left with the worst teachers.
It means that teachers will dumb down their curriculum rather than challenge students for fear of losing their jobs.
It means that administrators will cave in even faster to parental pressure rather than stand up for standards.

It's a sad day.

The winners are, very clearly, the pro voucher crowd who want to dismantle public education and privatize it for their own gain.
The losers are, very clearly, everyone one.

The right wing is all about hurting the majority, redistributing their wealth to the top percent. This case is no different. Hurt the majority so that the few can benefit from a dismantled public education system. No wonder why nobody goes into public education anymore.

Thanks activist judge!

clearfield, UT

Real Maverick

You claim that the loss of tenure will result in all those bad things happening in the future to the public schools. Then please explain why those things have already been happening with tenure in place? I used to live in California and believe me your discription of problems like bad teachers in bad schools, dumbed down curriculum, and low standards have been the norm for a lot of California school districts for a long time now. That is why many in the low income minority communities wanted and liked the idea of vouchers and school choice. To get their kids out of the bad areas if possible. The teachers unions and overpaid non-teaching administrators who took a huge part of the school budget were a lot of the reason for poor public education. Tenure if anything, only made change for the better, a lot harder to accomplish. Now we'll see if change for the better happens without it.

Columbus, OH

I can actually see the judge's perspective to a limited degree. But I'm concerned we're throwing the baby out with the bathwater here. Take seniority, for example. It's certainly not a hard and fast rule that more experienced teachers are better teachers. But, generally, that is more often than not the case. Teaching effectively takes practice--experience leads to an understanding of what works and what does not work. If layoffs are necessary, however, more experienced teachers cost more, because they've been there longer to receive raises, etc. Without any protections, the districts are likely to remove the more expensive experienced teachers, in favor of the inexperienced, and less effective young teachers.

Rather than removing all job protection, perhaps it would be better to mandate a procedure by which ineffective teachers can have their tenure revoked, through a process that demonstrates cause.

The Real Maverick
Orem, UT

SC fan,

Let me ask you a few questions:

1. How many public school teachers have you interviewed asking them their greatest concerns?
2. How many public school teachers have you interviewed asking them their greatest problems?
3. How many public school teachers have you interviewed asking them their solutions to these problems?

If you haven't done this, you should. It would be enlightening. I have, and I'll explain a little later what I found.

First of all, you're right. These trends have been going on for quite some time. The right wing programs have definitely taken a toll. NCLB and Reagan's "A Nation at Risk" have created more red tape, endless standardized testing, dumbing down of the curriculum, and have tied more and more federal dollars to local schools. Really, the burden of financing education should fall upon each state, not the Feds. The burden of creating standards and curriculum should be on educators, not nurses, lawyers, real estate agents, or special interest groups.

To be continued...

The Real Maverick
Orem, UT

Continued from my last post...

When I've spoken with educators, you know, the people in the trenches, they tell me their top concerns are:

1. Class size
2. Lack of materials
3. The endless testing and mindless curriculum developed by non-educators
4. The lack of support from gutless administrators and zero accountability from parents
5. Compensation. Many educators must work 2-3 jobs to make ends meet.

Why don't we look into what Finland did to drastically improve their education system?

1. Compensation: teachers are paid $80k+. This keeps them motivated and focused. It also attracts the best.
2. All teachers must have at least Masters degrees. They must be expert teachers. Schools today work counter to this, and hire the cheapest and least qualified and experienced so they can pay them less. Intern teachers in utah is rampant. Half pay and zero benefits.
3. Educators develop the curriculum (novel idea, I know). Not Gayle Ruzika or Becky Lockhart. Educators.
4. Zero standardized testing
5. Class sizes of 18-20, not 35-40, like here in utah
6. Accountability: If students don't show competency they don't proceed to the next grade.

Do this, and you'd be amazed how education would take off.

Herriman, UT

Real Maverik has hit it on the nose. Thanks!

Steve Cottrell
Centerville, UT

I'm afraid that we often lack an adequate supply of well qualified teachers, particularly in Math, Physical Sciences, and Special Education. Just dropping tenure (which Utah teachers have never had) does not help the supply issue.

Orem, UT

Irony Guy: "The end of tenure means the end of protection...In my opinion, anyone considering going into teaching should have his head examined."

And their alternative would be...to go into another field that never had anything like tenure in the first place. Without tenure, teachers are like all the rest of us who have jobs where we must perform and add value at least equal to our pay. Like all the rest of us, there will probably be some cases where good teachers lose their jobs unfairly, but generally good teachers will find a better position.

Everyone would like guaranteed employment where you can never be fired for incompetence. That is...until you have to work side by side with a bunch of incompetent workers who also can't be fired (or have to send your kid to school to be taught by an incompetent teacher).

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

In Utah we have a lot of kids to educate. Some people give "pie in the sky" ideas. Some tell us that teachers should be paid $80,000. If teachers are paid $80,000, who pays the bill? Yes, that's right; you and I pay the bill. Most of us make half that much. Because of Obama, most of us work more than one job without benefits in an effort to hang on to our homes and to feed our families. But, there are those who think that teachers are entitled to a salary twice as high as the average family's income in Utah.

Let's look at the real problem. The problem is that SOME teachers tell us that they will not be held accountable unless they get what they want. The solution is to pay teachers for results. AFTER teachers have shown that they can and will educate our children, they should be paid the same as those of us who pay their wages - about $40,000 per year.

All of us have difficult jobs. Teachers don't work more than the 90+ hours that I work every week, and they're paid more.

Orem, UT

If you're working more than 90+ hours per work you need to start managing your business more efficiently or spend less time on the desnews comment board. I personally know many teachers who work way more than the average utah worker. Some arrive at school at 7 am, stay until 4, than lesson plan for a couple more hours for the next day's lesson. That's an 11 hour day. Not many Utahns are actually working that many hours a day and in the environment our teachers work in. I think it's disappointing that there are those that don't value our children's education more than to pay them a measly salary. This state claims they believe education is important, but paying terrible salaries and being as unsupportive as many are, it shows they are big on talk, not on action. For many that have never taught, or understand what teaching is, I understand that it's hard to comprehend just how important education should be and that's too bad.

Louisville, KY

I have no animus to unions nor does tenure strike me as a bad thing. But there must be a reasonable way for a school district to rid itself of the bottom few. Nobody wants them as teachers or as peers.

As to compensation. We value what we pay for. We can say whatever we like. But "where your treasure is, there will your heart be also".

Salt Lake City, UT

Hooraaay!! I hope this spreads throughout the land, with Utah next.

The whole idea of "tenure", a policy of having a specially protected occupational class, has been a sorry blot on our civilization for far, far too long.

Dammam, Saudi Arabia

@The Real Maverick:
"The winners are, very clearly, the pro voucher crowd who want to dismantle public education and privatize it for their own gain."

I am pro-voucher. I thought it was because I like the idea that poor children in bad schools would have a way to go to a better quality private school. A way to desegregate that even the so-called 'conservatives' would like.

But thank you for telling me that it is because I want to privatize schooling for my own gain. I must own a private school. Could you look in your crystal ball and I see if I also own a mansion and a yacht?

Orem Parent
Orem, UT

When it is all said and done,

Who is going to teach our children?

It isn't like there is a long line of people waiting to get into the profession.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

@The Real Maverick – “The winners are, very clearly, the pro voucher crowd who want to dismantle public education and privatize it for their own gain.”

We typically agree on many issues but here I think your fears are unfounded. Vouchers, if properly funded for all kids, rich and poor alike, would be a tremendous boon for education in this country.

Both France and Sweden – hardly bastions of conservative ideology – saw the wisdom of vouchers years ago and are so far happy with the results.

Please research this and see if it changes your mind.

You’re spot on regarding Finland – the relevant question though is what would motivate that sort of change. Vouchers, by promoting competition along with transparent result and the poor schools copying what the good do (if only to survive) seems like it would drive this change.

If not, what do you think would (keeping in mind Finland is roughly the size of New Jersey with a 3rd less population)?

Open to having my mind changed on this…

Howard Beal
Provo, UT


I would bet that if vouchers became available private schools will just jack up the prices. They generally don't want to "diversify" their schools. They basically want rich white kids with parents that can pay the tuition and won't cause too many problems. They certainly don't want special needs students. Charters have lotteries so they are somewhat exclusive though they don't claim to be.

Only the traditional public schools have to take everyone.

Mike Richards: The Real Maverick seems to be onto something. You're on these blogs too much to expect me to believe you work a 90-hour week. Sorry, not buying it...

Kaysville, UT

Some teacher unions are way too powerful. We've seen the 60 minute reports in states like NY were a district can't get rid of a rotton apple teacher to the point where they pay the teacher to not teach for 10 years etc. Thank goodness Utah's not like that. This ruling is refreshing.

60 minutes also pointed out that the difference between the best teachers and worst teachers for 1 year school is a whole grade level of progress. The students of the worst teachers progressed a half a grade level and the best teachers students progressed 1 1/2 grade levels. I don't want my kids left behind because the priority needs to be the students not protecting teacher jobs at the expense of students.

We need to go were the best education research tells us to whatever that turns out to be. We need to be able to identify the best teachers and reward them and make it easier for districts to identify the worst teachers and not renue their contracts without needing to fight a union to do it.

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