Monday, June 4, 2012

Why Teachers Need Tenure

On Wednesday, one of my kids came in to discuss her grade. Her grade from the first trimester. You know, the one that ended in November.

She didn't think it should be a B.

She actually has an argument that, to a lot of people, really makes sense. During their final lab project, she left her partner to go to the bathroom. In her absence, he managed to burn a hole through the sensor cord and earned them a zero for their safety grade. Since her grade was right on the line, it was enough to drop her from an A to a B. I have a lot of issues with her argument, but I won't go into them here.

In the past two days, I have had two tear-filled visits from her, a call from each of my principals and two emails from her dad.

Did I mention her dad is on the school board?

Now, I really do not believe that this will go any further, nor do I feel any major pressure to change the grade. Both of my principals have told me that ultimately, the decision lies with me. Her dad would like a little better explanation, but doesn't seem to be pushing too much.

But do you see how easily this could go the other way? What if her dad was one to decide his little princess was going to get that A no matter what? What if my principal had come in and said change it or else?

Tenure gets a bad rap when it protects teachers who are doing a bad job, but the fact is, it isn't tenure that protects those teachers, it's administrators not doing their jobs during the evaluation process.

What you rarely hear about is how tenure protects teachers who are doing a GOOD job.

Without tenure, I probably would not be pushing the boundaries that I do. In the last few years, I have made changes in my classroom that I knew would cause issues and be challenged. The classroom I have created is the not the traditional teacher and worksheet centered environment in which a good number of kids are way too comfortable. Knowing that I can't be fired on the whim of an angry parent makes it possible for me to push kids out of that comfort zone.

While I acknowledge that there are teachers out there that hide behind that protection and I also know that tenure allows others (me included) to become a better teacher.

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