The Walls Come Tumblin' Down: Is Tenure Next?

It began with punching holes through the ?firewall? between teacher evaluations and student performance, which many states have done thanks to Race to the Top prompting.

Now, says the New York Times, ?GOP Governors Take Aim at Teacher Tenure.? ?Pushed by ?crushing state budget deficits,? report Trip Gabriel and Sam Dillon, governors in Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Nevada, and New Jersey are all demanding an end to teacher tenure.? ?These new Republican governors are all trying to outreform one another,? Fordham's Mike Petrilli tells the Times. Another race is on.

Teacher unions are clearly on the defensive, trying to protect an assembly-line right dating to the early 20th century (New Jersey was first in 1909, report Gabriel and Dillon) ?while still wanting to be treated like professionals.? ?Dennis Van Roekle, president of the National Education Association, tells the Times that the governors should be focused on getting competent teachers into the classrooms instead of worrying about tenure. (The Times doesn't mention the major efforts on that front. See ?Education schools up close and personal.?)

The American Federation of Teachers, which still calls itself ?a union of professionals,? has an MSNBC interview of AFT president Randi Weingarten about tenure on its home page.? Weingarten says she wants to do some ?myth busting? about tenure, pointing out, unsurprisingly ? and unconvincingly ? that tenure is ?not a job for life,? it just ?gets you a hearing before you get fired.?? Sure, Randi.

In fact, with so many layers of emmployment rights laws now shielding American workers from injustice ? sex, age, race, religion, etc. ? it is hard to imagine what possible justification teacher tenure has except that of defending incompetence.

?Peter Meyer, Bernard Lee Schwartz Policy Fellow

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