States revise teacher tenure rules

Teacher tenure, once sancrosanct, is under review in several states, writes Stephen Sawchuk in Education Week. Florida’s Republican-controlled Legislature is expected to pass a bill abolishing tenure for new teachers.  Ohio enacted a law last year delaying the tenure decision until a teacher has seven years of experience. Delaware is linking tenure more closely to “a teacher’s effect on student achievement.” Maryland is expected to pass a modest bill delaying tenure from two years to three.

Colorado and Louisiana may be next to act on tenure.

“Advances in the collection of student-achievement and teacher-performance data” have “totally changed the debate about tenure,” Patrick J. McGuinn, an associate professor of political science at Drew University, tells Ed Week.

But the new tenure reforms don’t focus enough on ensuring that teachers are successful in the classroom, says Timothy Daly, president of the New Teacher Project.

“Right now, the standard is that you haven’t been fired by your principal,” Mr. Daly said.

Maryland hopes to create “a unified, statewide evaluation framework that would be linked to tenure and include some consideration of growth in student scores.”

Ohio dropped the idea of using test scores to evaluate teachers.

Delaware, one of the first two Race to the Top winners, “recently made a measure of student learning the primary benchmark in determining whether a teacher should be granted tenure,” Ed Week reports.

Two-thirds of teachers teach subjects that aren’t measured by state test scores. Evaluating their effect on student achievement is even more of a challenge.

On Teacher Beat, Sawchuck adds:

In Colorado, state Sen. Michael Johnston, a Democrat, plans to introduce a bill that would require teachers to be deemed “effective” in three evaluations before receiving tenure. Growth in student test scores would be a significant part of the system, according to this Denver Post story.

It’s not clear if the bill will pass.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is backing a bill to make it easier to fire tenured teachers who are “chronically ineffective.” Delaware also is making it easier to fire tenured teachers if there is a “pattern of ineffectiveness,” such as two to three years of low ratings. Johnston plans to include similar provisions in his Colorado bill, Sawchuk reports.

About Joanne


  1. It’s terrific that this is happening at the state level. Let’s see how differing tenure policies affect teacher effectiveness.

    Joanne, by-the-by, I notice you haven’t written about the uproar Gov. Christie is causing in NJ, demanding a wage freeze and teacher contribution to benefits. He’s basically gone to war with the unions and is winning. He’s very popular here in NJ.


  2. OK, I’ll go there: why should teachers have tenure at all? Why should teacher’s jobs be guaranteed for life when almost no one else in our society enjoys that privilege (except, perhaps, government workers)? What’s the theory behind teacher tenure?

  3. Teachers are government workers and if tenure is anything like the job security enjoyed under civil service law it’s due to the misuse of the patronage system back when a winning politician rewarded his supporters with jobs on the government payroll.

    The civil service system put the skids on that form of abuse only to lay the foundation of a different form of abuse but of society in its entirety rather then of the job-holders.

    Obviously, the best situation for all concerned would be if the jobs were held by people who demonstrated competence but as government jobs they’re subject to political considerations among which is competence, maybe.

  4. Mike Curtis says:

    Get it straight…public school, K-12 teachers, do not get tenure. This term (tenure) is applied to post secondary educators (college/university professors and wannabees). Every K-12 teacher in the U.S. is subject to being relieved for cause regardless of union membership.

    I’ve been a secondary teacher for 10 years. There is nothing between me and the superintendent’s whim than a contract that guarantees me legal protection; and that exists solely because I pay for “malpractice insurance” by being a member of our local Education Association.


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by JoanneLeeJacobs. JoanneLeeJacobs said: New blog post: States revise teacher tenure rules […]