Tenure Means Teachers Remain, Regardless of Talent

Owen Megura, Staff Writer

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   Teachers are essential for a student’s learning, future, and character. Therefore, why should a good teacher be transferred to another school due to their lack of tenure, while a bad teacher gets to stay?

   The reason why some teachers in the San Diego Unified School District are being transferred to different schools is because the enrollment at their current school is decreasing. According to English Teacher Aaron Pores, teachers aren’t being laid off but rather being excessed, which is the process of moving a teacher from one school to another due to changes in student enrollment. The teachers still keep their jobs within the district but undergo a time in which they wait for another school’s availability. As a result, that teacher is transferred to a school that has rising enrollment. Pores further explained the reason why teachers are being excessed: “Right now, we are losing around four teachers because our district is not allowing the Choice program to have students from different neighborhoods opt into Standley Middle School or UC High,” explained Pores. The teachers who will be excesses will be the least senior and therefore not protected by tenure, with creates a nearly permanent position.

   The idea of seniority emphasizes the protection of teachers from unreasonable layoffs. If there was an absence of tenure, teachers might get lay off or excessed due to grievances amongst staff members, including administration. History Teacher Elizabeth Frohoff believes that teachers shouldn’t be excessed based on seniority. “I understand why it’s there, I just think it’s kind of an archaic system that doesn’t really protect all of the teachers that should be worth protecting,” Frohoff stated. She continued, “Even if you are a good teacher who’s only been teaching for five years, you are the first out the door instead of a teacher who has been teaching for 10 years and has students that don’t really learn.” If teachers cannot fulfill their jobs by helping students learn, then why should they have the right to stay? Therefore, it is important to examine a teacher based on their impact on a student’s learning rather than years of teaching.

   Unfortunately, the seniority rule provides teachers with tenure. Teachers who have less seniority, as well as those who haven’t obtained tenure, are often under very stressful situations in hopes of keeping their positions at their schools. Frohoff believes that some teachers genuinely take their job less seriously once they become tenured. “I definitely feel like once you get tenured, some teachers don’t have to try anymore, because it’s hard for the school to get rid of them,” said Frohoff.

    “For younger teachers, they work really hard to show their skills and may still work hard after they get tenured, but there’s definitely a level of relief when teachers don’t need to follow the rules as closely.” The teachers that are given tenure still need to maintain their teaching habits for the student’s sake, and if that isn’t the case, then the teachers with a shorter history of hard work and student appreciation need to be recognized as the better choice for the school.

   There are many complications when it comes to firing a teacher who isn’t beneficial to students and their futures. According to Pores, the process of firing a bad teacher is a lot more difficult than it seems. “The principal documents what it was that the teacher was doing and then puts the teacher onto an improvement plan, and then they can receive coaching from a better teacher or agree to attend some special staff development courses,” Pores stated. “The principal needs to follow up and see if the teacher has actually improved compared to what they had previously done.” There needs to be simpler measures to discipline or remove teachers who don’t teach the students, because the main focus should be on the students’ futures.

   According to Time Magazine, firing a low-performance teacher takes a long time, costs a lot of money and involves the Union, School Board, principal, and judicial system. The process also costs the Union legal fees that could amount to thousands of dollars. However, the positive impact on students that a less seasoned but more effective teacher can have far outweighs the complicated process of excessing a less effective teacher. Therefore, to ensure the better-performing teacher a job, tenure granted from seniority must not decide which teacher should become excessed (time.com).

   Therefore, the categorization of teachers based on seniority is wrong. The teacher should be judged based on their impact on students and teaching abilities. A less experienced teacher should still be able to pass his or her enthusiasm to their students without the thought of having to move. Though it may be costly to fire a teacher incapable of teaching, it’s certainly important to both the students and the excellent teachers who want to stay at the schools where they are appreciated and valued.

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