Teacher Union Head Wants to Overhaul Teacher Tenure

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Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, announced a plan Thursday night to overhaul the teacher tenure laws that guide how teachers are evaluated and fired. Here’s how the process works currently, generally speaking: A teacher usually spends two-three years in the classroom before becoming a permanent employee. During that probationary period, a teacher can be let go at the end of the year for almost any reason. After a teacher becomes tenured, critics (including Waiting for Superman) argue that it’s difficult to dismiss ineffective teachers. Critics also argue that the current system places too much emphasis on seniority versus quality. In many schools, including Mission High School where I report, that can mean that hard-to-recruit young teachers of color are the first to get pink slips in a budget-strapped state.

Of course, the devil of this overhaul will be in the details. Will the overhaul just increase managerial flexibility? Or will it also implement more effective teacher evaluation systems, using multiple measures? I’m at Mission High School today and can’t review AFT’s new plan, but here’s what The New York Times says about it:

“Teachers rated unsatisfactory would be given a detailed “improvement plan” jointly devised by school administrators and experienced master teachers. Some improvement plans – like maintaining better classroom order – could last a month. Others would take a full school year. The results would be considered separately by administrators and the peer experts, whose judgments would be sent to a neutral arbitrator. The arbitrator would be required to decide within 100 days whether to keep or fire the teacher.”

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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