Taking a cue from Gordon Gee

Ohio State University President Gordon Gee has been in the press lately for his ideas to ???reinvent??? higher education (including changes to the way professors are awarded tenure). Gee probably isn't unique in recognizing the perverse incentive structure inherent to the university tenure process, as reflected in this quote??in the LA Times:

The traditional formula that rewards publishing in scholarly journals over excellence in teaching and other contributions is outdated and too often favors the quantity of a professor's output over quality.

But Gee is exceptional in his willingness to swim against the current, by openly speaking against the holy grail of postsecondary and K-12 education alike ??? educators' tenure. In fact, it's probably the only time you'll read the words ???bold??? and ???tenure??? and the name of an Ohio education leader in the same sentence.

Admittedly, arguments for and against tenure differ dramatically at the university and K-12 level (there are legitimate reasons to incentivize non-teaching work in universities) and it's important not to conflate them. But the sentiment behind what Gee is doing ??? suggesting dramatic changes to the status quo and probably ruffling a lot of feathers in the meantime ??? is something that K-12 leaders would do well to emulate.????

The National Council on Teacher Quality, in its recent State Teacher Policy Yearbook (a look at state laws, rules and regs over the teaching profession), gave Ohio a D+.?? Our inability to ???exit ineffective teachers??? is one area dragging down the overall score:

Ohio's evaluation and tenure policies do not consider what should count the most about teacher performance: classroom effectiveness.?? Ohio does not require any objective measures of student learning in teacher evaluations and does not require annual evaluations for all teachers.?? It also does not require that districts collect or consider any evidence of teacher effectiveness as part of tenure decisions.

To steal a quote from Gee's office wall (as reported in the LA Times): ???"If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less." The question is how to infuse some of this thinking into K-12 public education. A good place to start??would be??allowing criteria for tenure to include "teacher effectiveness," as measured partly by student performance.

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