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Teacher Tenure

What are the problems with teacher tenure and how should it be reformed? Champaign-Urbana educator Elizabeth Goldsmith-Conley asks some experts in the field. Her guests include Kate Rousmaniere, chair of the Department of Educational Leadership at Miami University, Ohio; Frederick Hess, director of educational policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute; Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.

Kate Rousemaniere points out that tenure policies were originally introduced not by the teacher unions but by state legislatures. Tenure’s purpose was to upgrade the teaching force and protect academic freedom. New Jersey which was the first state to introduce teacher tenure now may be one of the first to eliminate tenure.

Rick Hess believes that it is time to change the nature of the way schools are staffed by differentiating positions. Schools would employ a few excellent master teachers who would provide leadership for more subordinate positions. In a time of limited resources, administrators would have more freedom to staff schools with fewer expensive employees.

Randi Weingarten believes reforms are needed that will ensure teachers are involved in an ongoing, multifaceted, and realistic evaluation of their performance at all stages of their career. Teachers in need of help will be provided with support and opportunity to improve their practice. If despite the support they are given, they cannot meet performance standards they will undergo a short but fair process for dismissal.

Websites with more information about the speakers and the issues they have raised

Kate Rousmaniere

Rick Hess

American Enterprise Website: www.aei.org/education.

Rick’s Education Week blog: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/rick_hess_straight_up/

Rick spoke favorably of Colorado’s legislation. See http://www.statebillnews.com/tag/teacher-tenure/

Randi Weingarten

American Federation of Teachers Website: www.aft.org

A Framework for Addressing Allegations of Teacher Wrongdoing, Developed by Kenneth Feinberg and Adopted by the AFT Executive Council, February 2011http://www.edweek.org/media/18aft%20-%20a%20procedure%20for%20teacher%20discipline.pdf

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