Join the discussion: Does teacher tenure protect bad teachers or good schools?

Return To Article
Add a comment
  • cedarpost Washington, Utah
    June 18, 2014 10:52 a.m.

    Teachers have to earn tenure over the course of so many years. Bad teachers should be let go before earning tenure (and the decision should not be made by the principal alone). Tenure is to protect good teachers from being dismissed without good cause. Like others have said, tenured teachers can still be let go, it is just more of a process rather than one principal essentially just deciding that a teacher needs to go, which happens in many cases to non tenured teachers. And a lot of times for no other reason than them just not liking the teacher. Tenure is a pretty fair system for all.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    June 17, 2014 9:20 p.m.

    I've just been told, the national average price for each test, and retest is seventy five dollars per student.

    No wonder teachers are under paid.

    one old man--you're slipping.

  • squirt Taylorsville, ut
    June 16, 2014 5:37 p.m.

    PLEASE learn about the teacher evaluation law in Utah created with Senator Osmond and the UEA. You do not have the facts as it relates to Utah law. DN interview UEA President for balanced reporting. The UEA support rigorous teaching standards and evaluation. It is irresponsible of the DN to continue to paint this picture without the facts as it relates to Utah. You are simply inflaming a mind set which is not related to Utah's reality.

  • benbookworm Fresno, CA
    June 16, 2014 5:20 p.m.

    While tenure does offer protection to teachers from being fired on a whim, that protection also applies to teachers who once were good but since have become lazy and apathetic. In California, once a teacher has been hired on for his/her third year at a given school, tenure is automatically given and it is nigh on impossible to dismiss a tenured teacher for any reason less than a felony conviction. Many administrators have tried to get rid of an apathetic teacher, but the long, drawn-out process means that they will think at least twice before doing it again.

    Also, many current teachers gained tenure years ago, during times where evaluating teacher performance was less organized. While they may meet the education standard of that time, some have no desire or ability to teach according to current, researched methodologies, but because they have tenure, they cannot be dismissed.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    June 16, 2014 7:38 a.m.

    " The educational establishments has put job security ahead of QA/QI. "

    Where do ideas like this come from? Who is telling people that tenured teachers aren't reviewed every year, that their work output isn't looked at anymore? Tenure does not remove QA/QI or any other measures from class room performance. If it did.... I would agree with the anti tenure crowd, but this is a false argument.

    "In other words, you get an e-mail saying they are not renewing you for next year and have a nice day."

    JMHO - unfortunately there are wide swaths of our economy that work under this kind of an environment. And we wonder why loyalty by employees is all but gone.

  • JMHO Southern, UT
    June 15, 2014 1:51 p.m.

    Agree with EJM. There should have been post after post of "bad" teachers. What the "tenure" system provided in Utah is "expected employment" for the next year unless served with a cause statement. This is good for Utah. Without this, teachers would be allowed unemployment benefits in the summers. By the way, there are parts of Utah public education that have gone to year-to-year contracts: coaches. As a coach you really have no expectation of continued employment and your job can be chosen to not renew without cause. Think about your office or other workplace. Would you like to be in a situation where your contract could not be renewed without cause? In other words, you get an e-mail saying they are not renewing you for next year and have a nice day.

  • Owl Salt Lake City, UT
    June 15, 2014 1:20 p.m.

    Tenure must go, but need not be replaced with a firing squad, pun intended. In most professions quality assurance and quality improvement (QA/QI) are integral to their business. The educational establishments has put job security ahead of QA/QI. The balance must be restored.

  • EJM Herriman, UT
    June 14, 2014 8:58 p.m.

    I always get a big kick out of people getting on here and ripping on teachers. I know that my 29 years as a teacher, counselor and coach have served me well in my growth as a human being. And for many of my colleagues who have seen drastic changes in education these last 30 years they have also grown as people in the service of others.

    But each of us has also been accused of things we never did, or said, in those years. "Tenure" saved us because without it we might never have gotten this far and hopefully impacted in positive ways all those lives of kids we taught, counseled and coached. For those regaling in this courts decision not one poster has said "I taught for X number of years and I saw bad teachers left and right". None of you have but you go off anecdotal information about the state of education today. I invite all of you to come see me at Hunter High School for a week this fall and watch what educators do. Then tell me what you would do differently.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    June 14, 2014 8:53 p.m.

    "You provided a fairly long post, but you didn't address why public education teacher's tenure should exempt them from performance standards? "

    Where did you get the idea that tenure exempts teachers from performance standards? This couldn't be further from the truth. Tenured teachers still have both peer and administration review. They still have their class performance rated by end of year testing. They are still measured on advancement of students. Tenure doesn't exempt teachers from being reviewed and measured.

    It simply states that you can't summarily fire a teacher with tenure. They have earned the right through performance to have a review before any disciplinary action is taken. It just means a teacher has moved from a probationary status, to a contracted status. Still can be fired. Still is measured. The district is simply saying that if you keep doing your job right - you will continue to have a job.

    So much misinformation on this subject.

  • Orem Parent Orem, UT
    June 14, 2014 3:08 p.m.

    While everyone has an answer for crushing the teachers, I still have one question.

    When all is said and done, who are we going to get to teach the children? It isn't like there is a long line of people waiting to be belittled, blamed, mocked, and told to be happy because they are only working 9 months of the year.

  • Hamath Omaha, NE
    June 14, 2014 10:50 a.m.

    @ Tyler... Sweden might be happy with the results, but we shouldn't be. Vouchers might be a good idea or they might not. But we shouldn't use Sweden as an example. Their students, like ours, are mediocre. Finland would be a better example of what to do with teachers. But that would require a major cultural shift in how we value teachers. They did it and boy did it pay dividends in how their students have done. Right next door, Sweden has not done well at all.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    June 14, 2014 10:04 a.m.

    Those ranting about the teachers unions must have great experience and tremendous knowledge on what they've done here in utah.

    Name 5 things the teachers unions have done to impact education negatively here in utah:

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    June 14, 2014 9:26 a.m.

    I have no problem getting rid of the poor performers. I suspect no decent teacher does. The issue becomes do teachers then feel threatened in their jobs all the time. A loss of some security.

    If so, then we will have to pay more to get the same quality of teacher. Why? Because job security is one of the trade offs. You get more security, a reasonable pension, you don't require as much salary. Take those away, the demand for salary goes up. For the best and brightest, other fields will offer similar (lack of) security and higher pay. You either pay more or lose those folks.

    There is no free lunch. We take something away, we have to give something in return. Otherwise the deal becomes worse and, with a worse deal, you get worse employees. Oh sure lots of those already in the system will stay - but you will get fewer of the best in colleges now. It is simply how incentives work.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    June 14, 2014 1:54 a.m.

    @ Tyler

    Look at how vouchers have worked in Wisconsin and Florida. They haven't improved education at all. They've served merely to be handouts to richies and those with financial ties to private schools.

    Charter and private institutions don't want to diversify. Diversification increases the risk of failure. Most chargers fail. And most private schools only will accept the rich and gifted.

    @ everyone else who want to treat educators as "any other profession"

    Fine. Let's do that. But let's also allow educators to pick and choose who they'll serve. I know of many teachers who would do better if hey could kick out minorities, special needs students, poor students, and lazy students.

    So if we want educators to be treated as small business owners, then allow them to choose their customers.

  • Shaun Sandy, UT
    June 13, 2014 11:13 p.m.

    @sven. What is a incompetent teacher? If a child fails or does not progress it could be a variety of reasons that the teacher has no control over. I know students who just didn't care.
    It had nothing to do with competence of the teacher.

  • Sven Morgan, UT
    June 13, 2014 9:27 p.m.


    Want to know another way to help the teachers and the children? Get rid of teacher's unions...namely the National Education Association (NEA)! Teachers Unions foster incompetence, definitely put the children last, and are corrupt to the bone! Getting rid of a union is one thing liberals will NOT tolerate, especially a union the size of the NEA.

    Think the Left really cares for kids? Think again. These children had a simple complaint; they didn't want to be exposed to "grossly incompetent teachers." Instead of putting the children first, and considering what was in their best interest, the teachers and their unions decided instead to fight them in court.

    Instead of dealing with the issue of incompetent teachers that tenure and unions promote, Liberals are moving the bogus argument to: "Oh, those poor, poor teachers...they sacrifice so much, are paid so little, and are treated so miserably...blah...blah...blah." Nice try, but this about the children, and what's best for them!

  • satch Highland, UT
    June 13, 2014 7:28 p.m.

    For those of you who think this would make education better you need to study the situation better and get more knowledge. I am not saying it is a bad thing.

    The problem is much larger and bigger than education. If we want to truly change things, change the individuals who make the rules and design our education system.

    We're still teaching education in America the way it was modeled in 1849. I'm not kidding. There are too many legislators and State & District Administrators who are more concerned about holding onto their power than making a difference.

    Change the way we hire and fire teachers. Start to treat teachers more like our most respected Professions in America. Pay teachers differently and pay them an honest wage for their professional work and ability. (I am glad to call out ANYWAY who thinks otherwise- this is a different discussion).

    Change the way we teach, the way we set up class structure (this will save millions), hold parents MORE accountable. School should be a privilege and not a right.

    Tenure is such a stupid talking point if we are serious and want "change" to make our schools/teachers better. Better is better.

  • The Wraith Kaysville, UT
    June 13, 2014 7:13 p.m.

    Per Mike Richards comment

    Great teachers may not have a problem keeping a job but there is a massive problem in keeping great teachers in education when the profession is treated with such disdain; when most people look at teaching as simply a part time that deserves a part time wage; when teachers are expected to give a world class education with 20 year old text books, no access to the internet, the bare minimum of resources, and so much more. I've met some amazing teachers who left the field after a few years simply because they couldn't afford to teach anymore; it was literally costing them more to teach than they were earning.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    June 13, 2014 4:53 p.m.

    Vouchers, if properly funded for all kids, 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.

  • Hemlock Salt Lake City, UT
    June 13, 2014 4:46 p.m.

    Tenure has become synonymous with a job beyond review. That was not the original purpose of tenure. In its present form tenure protects incompetent teachers.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    June 13, 2014 4:36 p.m.

    Those suggesting that schools will have to compete and teachers will easily find jobs obviously have no idea what you're talking about.

    The education has quite the abundance of workers right now due to significant drops in tax revenue. Look at how the class size has exploded since the recession here in utah (and we were one of the most protected).

    So right now educators have little power. And sadly, it's the children that suffer. As good people see the lack or power, few job openings, benefits, compensation, job security, etc they will leave for better fields.

    The children will suffer. It's all about the children.

  • Hamath Omaha, NE
    June 13, 2014 4:00 p.m.

    It might really end up being good for teachers. Schools may start competing for the best teachers and will have to pay for it. It will just be bad for equity in education and/or bad for the taxpayer's pocketbook.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    June 13, 2014 3:41 p.m.

    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.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    June 13, 2014 2:34 p.m.

    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.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    June 13, 2014 2:31 p.m.

    @ 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.

  • Fitness Freak Salt Lake City, UT
    June 13, 2014 1:19 p.m.

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

  • What in Tucket? Provo, UT
    June 13, 2014 1:10 p.m.

    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.

  • Sven Morgan, UT
    June 13, 2014 12:42 p.m.

    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.

  • Sven Morgan, UT
    June 13, 2014 12:39 p.m.

    @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.

  • The Wraith Kaysville, UT
    June 13, 2014 12:27 p.m.


    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.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    June 13, 2014 12:25 p.m.

    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.

  • mulrich Columbia, SC
    June 13, 2014 12:01 p.m.

    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.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    June 13, 2014 11:53 a.m.

    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.

  • Shaun Sandy, UT
    June 13, 2014 11:22 a.m.

    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.

  • The Utah Republican Alpine, UT
    June 13, 2014 11:14 a.m.

    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."

  • Sven Morgan, UT
    June 13, 2014 10:50 a.m.

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

    From 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!

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    June 13, 2014 10:43 a.m.

    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?

  • Henry Drummond San Jose, CA
    June 13, 2014 10:31 a.m.

    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.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    June 13, 2014 10:31 a.m.

    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.

  • BYUalum South Jordan, UT
    June 13, 2014 10:14 a.m.

    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.

  • Steven S Jarvis Orem, UT
    June 13, 2014 9:57 a.m.

    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.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    June 13, 2014 9:56 a.m.

    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.