Comments about ‘Join the discussion: Does teacher tenure protect bad teachers or good schools?’

Return to article »

Published: Friday, June 13 2014 9:15 a.m. MDT

  • Oldest first
  • Newest first
  • Most recommended
Durham, NC

Here is the problem I have with this. When my dad went through his career, he and his employer actually had a relationship, there was loyalty between employer and employee. He rode the rise of IBM. Upon my birth, he actually got a hand written not from "Pappa Watson".

Since that time, the contract between employer and employee has been nullified. With one of the world largest software companies I now partner with I was recently told that their average recruit lasts only 18 months. The age of having a career seems to all but be lost.

In high tech and other industries, some level of this has been the norm. Technology has been the binding force. But in education, it is a much more personal. My wife has been in education most of her life. Teaching is a relationship and trust based job. Turning teachers into commodities is a dangerous path for our kids. Rating a teacher year after year ignores the fact that their job success greatly depends on the random sampling of kids they inherit each year. Tenure, used properly, simply smooths out those outlyier years.

We need to be careful about turning people into widgets.

Steven S Jarvis
Orem, UT

Schools will slowly improve because of this ruling. Its important to note that the key problem of attracting and retaining quality teachers will still be a challenge. But at least schools will be able to weed out the truly bad ones in California. Giving a bad teacher students harms everybody.

South Jordan, UT

Every other profession is largely scrutinized on performance. Adjustments are made accordingly. Why should the education system be any different? Believe it or not, there are bad teachers out there who need to be terminated and who are protected by tenure. This is a fact and is why this ruling came to be. Without a doubt the good to excellent teachers will be upset by long-standing protection and job security.

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

It looks like a win-win solution to me. Good teachers are in demand. Good teachers will have no problem keeping a job, and, more importantly, doing their job, which is to educate our children. Students will be assured that the teacher is qualified to be in the classroom, not because he has "survived" longer than other teachers, but because he is a good teacher.

The only people who will complain are the poor-quality teachers who could not pass a "merit" review.

Of all the teachers I had in school, there were only two that I would have preferred to have been reassigned. One was a 10th grade history teacher who gave us a reading assignment each day, and then left the classroom. The other was a 9th grade math teacher who turned the TV to channel 7 for our televised math lesson and then left the classroom. All of the other teachers cared about the students. Many of them spent time with me after school.

There's plenty of room for good teachers. Tenure isn't required.

Henry Drummond
San Jose, CA

I have found that "tenure" seems to be defined in drastically different ways depending on the institution. Where I have worked, being "non-tenured" meant you were on probation for three to seven years. Then a decision was made whether to allow you continuing status. If you passed you became "tenured" but that was not a promise of lifetime employment. You were still subject to being dismissed for cause. I have always had regular "post tenure reviews." I know plenty of tenured instructors who lost the jobs because of performance issues.

The systems I've worked under gave better pay to tenured faculty. There was also the promise that that non-tenured instructors would be laid off before tenured ones during economic downturns.

Under this situation you are rewarding good teachers but still requiring them to perform and getting rid of bad ones quickly.

My input would be to make sure systems of tenure do not guarantee someone employment regardless of job performance. But don't forget the other side of having "good teachers." You want to reward those who do perform.

Mcallen, TX

Are bad teachers the real problem with education?

Companies make $35 for each test a student takes.

Many students are tested frequently through out the school year, and actually lose out on learning.

Is it possible that legislators, and test companies work together, and plan out frequent testing, then blame teachers if students lose out on learning?

Morgan, UT

Wow, what a concept...being evaluated on ones performance. Only Liberals would be against such a notion.

From CNN.com from 6/12/2014:

"The students had two main arguments.

First, that five California laws that allow public school teachers to secure (and keep) tenure after 18 short months caused the students to be unreasonably exposed to 'grossly ineffective teachers.' And second, that minority and poor students were disproportionately stuck with them"

"The case started two years ago, when nine students sued the state of California, asserting that their constitutional right to equality of education is violated by laws that protect "grossly inadequate teachers." Two unions representing 425,000 teachers stepped in to fight the students, their families and a legal team backed by a powerful education reformer, Students First."


Interesting how the caring teachers and their thug Unions responded to these students (primarily minority and poor) they claim to care so much about. Instead of addressing the legitimate concerns these kids had, the teachers and their unions fought them! This proves the point that the "children" are not the Lefts primary concern in education. No, the most important thing is protecting ineffective teachers, and their thug Unions.

Great ruling by this Judge!

The Utah Republican
Alpine, UT

For teachers, the word "tenure" means they're evaluated using an observation every 3 years.
Eliminating "tenure" turns teachers into "at will" employees, like factory workers. They can be fired on the whim of their manager.

This is bad for education - There used to be a social contract between teachers and states.

Teachers agreed to work for a low salary, but in return were given creativity, autonomy, and a job with meaning. In addition, they got job security, good health care, and a decent retirement benefit. That social contract filled our schools with great teachers who did amazing things during the 20th century. It's impossible to ignore the 20th century American impact of great teachers in a universal education system.

Now, the retirement benefit is gone, the heath care benefit is severely degraded, job security is threatened, autonomy is eroded by testing, and creativity is replaced by a national core curriculum. All that's left is a sense of meaning and a low salary.

You can't feed and house a family with a sense of meaning.

In the end we will get what we pay for. That's what Republicans call "market economics."

Sandy, UT

Who would really want to become a teacher today? They are constantly attacked and blamed for everything.

People complain about the feds meddling in education but our own legislature should butt out and let the districts and teachers teach.

Bountiful, UT

The Utah Republican hit the nail on the head.

As the incentives for bright college students to become a teacher diminish, the need to get rid of bad teachers increases.

Columbia, SC

I don't understand tenure for K-12 educators.

If people are insistent on maintaining tenure for K12 educators they should institute higher standards of performance and longevity before awarding the it. A typical university faculty member takes 6 years to earn tenure, and there's very strict performance benchmarks that have to be met before getting the promotion. There's no reason a K12 teacher should have a lower standard.

Irony Guy
Bountiful, Utah

All moot in Utah. Teachers have no tenure here. One unhappy parent can ruin a good teacher's career. One lying student can take your livelihood. Academic freedom doesn't exist. People who want to be teachers in Utah ought to be automatically disqualified--they're clearly insane.

The Wraith
Kaysville, UT


Another problem caused by diminished incentives is getting college students who would make great teachers actually interested in becoming an educator. Teaching is a wonderful profession but there aren't a lot of good reasons to become a teacher right now. Teacher pay is frankly an embarrassment in many states, including Utah, overcrowded classes, lack of investment in students (Utah ranks dead last in per pupil spending), all work to drive away men and women would make great teachers. There are a lot of reasons for these problems, some caused by state legislatures and some caused on the education side as well. My real fear as a teacher is that I don't see anyone really talking about actual solutions to these issues.

Morgan, UT

@The Utah Republican

You provided a fairly long post, but you didn't address why public education teacher's tenure should exempt them from performance standards? Tenure does indeed keep bad teachers in the classroom. If the teacher is not performing...or performing well enough, they should be fired. After all, isn't this about the children? Funny how most of the posts critical of this ruling and tenure put the focus on the teachers in stead of where it should be...the CHILDREN!

Sorry, but I'm sick and tired of teachers acting as if they're martyrs. If they don't like their jobs, and being treated that way other professions are, they should quit. Oh, and most professions don't get summers off.

Bring back vouchers! Give parents, especially low income families, a choice in their child's education.

Morgan, UT

Irony Guy said:

"All moot in Utah. Teachers have no tenure here. One unhappy parent can ruin a good teacher's career. One lying student can take your livelihood. Academic freedom doesn't exist. People who want to be teachers in Utah ought to be automatically disqualified--they're clearly insane."


Yeah, and a few bad teachers can ruin a good child's future.

What in Tucket?
Provo, UT

In Los Angeles there is a large room with several dozen teachers playing with their computers getting their pay, but not allowed to teach they are so bad. Better to end tenure.

Fitness Freak
Salt Lake City, UT

The problem is much worse in higher education than public schools as far as "underperforming educators" but nobody talks about that much.

The Real Maverick
Orem, UT

@ Sven

"You provided a fairly long post, but you didn't address why public education teacher's tenure should exempt them from performance standards? Tenure does indeed keep bad teachers in the classroom. If the teacher is not performing...or performing well enough, they should be fired. After all, isn't this about the children?"

Just because you've failed to read Utah Republican's post and many other posts in this thread doesn't mean that the focus hasn't been on the children. It has.

Many posts have already stated is clearly.

Mindless testing, dumbing down of he curriculum, no autonomy, meddling legislature, no incentives, zero reason to go into education, the lack of benefits and pay is discouraging good people from becoming educators, etc...

If you fail to see how this doesn't affect children in a negative manner then I don't know what to tell ya.

one old man
Ogden, UT

Oh my goodness! I just agreed with Worf!

May I add one thought? How about the almost total lack of respect for education among so many Americans? Athletes are idolized. Smart kids are ridiculed.

Then there are the parents who don't give a hoot.

But it's always the teacher's fault.

How about modifying tenure and making it easier to fire really bad teachers without destroying protections for good ones who may find it necessary to stand up against an administrative decision or something similar? Teachers who speak up for a student or who try to take a stand against harmful actions of the administration need to have some kind of protection, too.

Salt Lake City, UT

RE: Mike Richards "Good teachers will have no problem keeping a job,..."

Probably not true, unfortunately. Such is the nature of education today, the good will be leveled with the bad. You have to have been there, or are there, to understand this.

to comment

DeseretNews.com encourages a civil dialogue among its readers. We welcome your thoughtful comments.
About comments