- Tenure helps safeguard children's right to an effective education because it provides teachers freedom to advocate for their students without fear of reprisal. Because tenure exists, teachers in New York state can speak out freely on issues such as over-testing, cuts in academic programs, elimination of art, music and language and inappropriate placements for students with disabilities.
Without tenure, working under the constant threat of arbitrary firing would have a chilling effect on a teacher’s professional judgment and create an environment that would erode, not enhance, educational quality.
- There is no evidence that teachers’ employment rights have anything to do with student achievement. Teachers in the wealthiest districts have the identical due process and seniority rights as teachers in the poorest districts — yet students in wealthy districts have much higher graduation and college acceptance rates. The real factor contributing to these differences in achievement is poverty.
Students in our poorer districts have the greatest educational needs but are given the least resources, with our richest districts spending 180 percent as much on education as our poorer districts do.
Tenure is essential in empowering teachers to make the case that all students deserve an effective education — not just those who happen to be the children of hedge-fund millionaires. Attacking tenure, and seeking to make teachers vulnerable to being fired at will is a smokescreen for failing to tackle the real reason why students struggle: poverty.
Blaming tenure for low student performance is as illogical as it is inflammatory.
- Student safety is paramount and it is safeguarded under the state’s tenure laws. Teacher-supported changes to the law in 2008 mean that any teacher, tenured or not, will automatically lose both job and teaching license if guilty of certain sexual offenses — without recourse to a hearing.
- Blaming low-student achievement on teacher tenure —a meritless claim not supported by any evidence — is like blaming the due process granted to police officers for crime or blaming the due process granted to firefighters for fire.
- If the wealthy elite truly cared about advancing student achievement they would partner with parents and teachers to achieve state budgets that provide equitable funding for all schools. They would oppose the state's tax cap, which worsens constraints on local communities. Instead, the wealthy elite and corporate forces are missing-in-action in these critically important battles. Teachers and parents stand together in calling for a renewed focus on learning and for the resources our students need to be prepared for college and career.
NEXT: Tenure is due process