Teachers

Nobody deserves tenure, with the possible exception of federal judges. University professors don't deserve tenure; civil servants don't deserve tenure; police and firefighters don't deserve tenure; school teachers don't deserve tenure. With the solitary exception noted above?and you might be able to talk me out of that one, too?nobody has a right to lifetime employment unrelated either to their on-the-job performance or to their employer's continuing need for the skills and attributes of that particular person.

Tenure didn't come down from Mt. Sinai or over on the Mayflower. Though people occasionally refer to its origins in medieval universities, on these shores, at least, it's a twentieth-century creation. The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) began pushing for it around 1915, but tenuring professors didn't become the norm on U.S. campuses until after World War II (when the presumption of a 7-year decision timeframe also gained traction) and it wasn't truly formalized until the 1970's when a couple of Supreme Court decisions made formalization unavoidable.[pullquote]Tenure didn't come down from Mt. Sinai or over on the Mayflower.[/pullquote]

In some states, public-school teachers began to gain forms of job protection that resembled tenure as early as the 1920s, but these largely went into abeyance during the Great Depression and were not formally reinstated until states?pressed hard by teacher unions?enacted ?tenure laws? between World War II and about 1980.

The original rationale for tenure at the university-level, articulately set forth by the AAUP, was to safeguard academic freedom by ensuring that...

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Liam Julian

Man the battle stations. The Miami Herald reports that ?the chairman of the [state] Senate's education policy committee filed a measure this week that would partially base teacher salary increases on student test scores.? The bill would not effect current teacher pay plans but would create merit-based contracts for educators hired after 2014, who ?would only see raises if they are deemed highly effective or effective? (deemed thus, that is, by a not-yet-created system of evaluation). The Herald notes that ?how the bill will be received by teachers, particularly the teachers' union, is yet to be seen.? But one can guess.

?Liam Julian, Bernard Lee Schwartz Policy Fellow

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Now it's an AP report, via the Wall Street Journal, telling us that Mayor Bloomberg will have to lay off lots of teachers ?unless teacher seniority rules are changed.?

According to the AP, which said it heard the Mayor say this at a meeting at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn,? ?the city could have to lay off nearly every teacher hired in the last five years? because of the proposed ?deep cuts? in state aid to education by the new governor.

In fact, it makes sense, as Bloomberg obviously knows. The more senior teachers cost more than new hires, so any seniority-based layoffs means eliminating the lower-paid teachers first, thus cutting more teachers, increasing class size. ?Bloomberg is pushing the obvious: ?the system can keep more teachers in these hard times if doesn't have to keep the most expensive ones.

Let the negotiations begin.

?Peter Meyer, Bernard Lee Schwartz Policy Fellow

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*See here

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Reuters is reporting that Mayor Michael Bloomberg is set to lay off 15,000 teachers in New York City in anticipation of State deficit crunches.

Fifteen thousand teachers!? That is probably more teachers than employed in some of our states.

Granted, this is?only two twenty percent* of the 75,000 teacher workforce in Gotham's one-million student system, but the raw numbers are awe-inspiring. Fifteen thousand teachers laid off!? That's a whole city's worth of unemployed teachers.? I can see the tents now. ?Teachervilles?

The number came from a local?radio interview the Mayor gave.

The scuttlebutt is ? I don't know if it's true or not ? is that the education budget will be cut statewide and New York City's share of that would be a $1 billion cut.

One billion dollars. That's another awe-inspiring number. ?More than some country's GDP, I'm sure.

Much of this, of course, is posturing, with the Mayor painting as unrosy a picture as possible in order to win sympathy for schools in advance of the state's budget negotiations.

Okay, go for it Mayor Mike.? But still, 15,000 teachers? ?Does 10,000 sound better?? Five?

Is the Coney Island rollercoaster still working?

?Peter Meyer, Bernard Lee Schwartz Policy Fellow

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*Thanks to an astute reader, I have corrected my decimal point error!...

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Fordham gives its advice to Governor-elect Kasich and the incoming leaders of the Ohio House and Senate as it relates to the future of K-12 education policy in the Buckeye State. To move Ohio forward in education, while spending less, we outline seven policy recommendations. 1) Strengthen results-based accountability for schools and those who work in them. 2) Replace the so-called “Evidence-Based Model” of school funding with a rational allocation of available resources in ways that empower families, schools, and districts to get the most bang for these bucks. 3) Invest in high-yield programs and activities while pursuing smart savings. 4) Improve teacher quality, reform teacher compensation, and reduce barriers to entering the profession. 5) Expand access to quality schools of choice of every kind. 6) Turn around or close persistently low-performing schools. 7) Develop modern, versatile instructional-delivery systems that both improve and go beyond traditional schools.

In this volume, a diverse group of experts—scholars, educators, journalists, and entrepreneurs—offer wisdom and advice on how schools and districts can cut costs, eliminate inefficient spending, and better manage their funds in order to free up resources to drive school reform.

Edited by Frederick M. Hess of the American Enterprise Institute, and Eric Osberg of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Stretching the School Dollar (Harvard Education Press, 2010) proposes immediate, short-term cost cutting solutions as well as long-term, structural changes that will improve the efficiency of the entire system. The book serves as a valuable guide in an era where every dollar matters.

Buy the book from Harvard Education Press

Press release

This study from the Fordham Institute tackles a key question: Which of thirty major U.S. cities have cultivated a healthy environment for school reform to flourish (and which have not)? Nine reform-friendly locales surged to the front: New Orleans, Washington D.C., New York City, Denver, Jacksonville, Charlotte, Austin, Houston, and Fort Worth. Trailing far behind were San Jose, San Diego, Albany, Philadelphia, Gary, and Detroit. Read on to learn more.

Press release
 

 

City Profiles:

...
Albany, NY Columbus, OH Gary, IN Milwaukee, WI San Antonio, TX
Austin, TX Dallas, TX Houston, TX New Orleans, LA San Diego, CA
Baltimore, MD

We announced a few weeks ago in Gadfly that the National Council on Teacher Quality had opened up the second year of their bi-annual research competition. The contest specifically looks for research that uses NCTQ's TR3 database, which chronicles the collective bargaining agreements of the nation's largest districts, though using TR3 is not a prerequisite.

Good news: NCTQ has extended their proposal deadline to June 10 (originally June 1). This is a really neat competition--the papers from 2009 were fascinating and original. Plus, there's a good amount of award money involved and the chance to have your research appraised by a panel of top thinkers and policy makers in ed policy. (The 2009 panel included Eric Hanushek, Michael Podgursky, and Jane Hannaway, for example.) Find more information and apply here.

--Stafford Palmieri

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