Tenure: Good or Bad for Society?
Tenure is a policy in the state of New Jersey that has brought great controversy to light as of late. Many people feel that tenure should be done away with, but others feel otherwise. In my personal opinion, tenure is something that should be done away with completely. Throughout the history of our state’s education system, tenure has allowed flaws to occur.
After teachers work for three years and one day, they are able to achieve what is known as tenure. Tenure, in general terms, is job security. This job security allows teachers to feel as though they do not have to worry about losing their jobs. Is that right, well, in my eyes that is a matter of opinion. Unfortunately, teachers use this job security to benefit themselves rather than the children and adolescents they are teaching. After the three years and one day is up, they feel as though nothing can happen to them, so in turn, they may lose the drive to teach little by little over the forthcoming years. Subsequently, the students that they are teaching are being affected because due to the lack of drive by the teachers, the student’s may feed off that by losing their drive to learn inevitably flawing our states or countries school system. From an outside perspective, every other job in America is based off yearly contracts in which they must work hard to maintain their job.
So you may be wondering what the state of New Jersey is doing now because of this flaw in our education system? The policy of tenure has had the trickle down affect straight from Washington D.C. “The momentum sprang in part from incentives in the Obama administration’s recent Race to the Top competition for stimulus funds. Ending tenure is also being championed prominently by former Washington, D.C., Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee. Ms. Rhee’s new Students First education-reform group called for that this week when it released its detailed policy agenda.” Governor Christie, as well as other states such as Florida and Idaho, are trying to rid their states of tenure. Tenure has a caused a serious budget crisis as well. It is costing states more and more money because you must go through the legal process every three years to re-due the policies at hand. A political science teacher at Drew university in New Jersey by the name of Patrick McGuinn states about how tenure is really due-process protections, “over time it’s become so lengthy, complicated, and costly to go through those due-process protections ... that virtually no teachers are fired on the basis of performance.” Performance is the most important aspect of any job, especially teaching. It is quite simple, if you do not do your job to the level you should be, then you should be fired. During Governor Christie’s State of the State speech, he said, “that a task force is working on improving the measurement and evaluation of teachers. And perhaps the most important step in that process is to give schools more power to remove underperforming teachers. The time to eliminate teacher tenure is now.”
From the other side of the spectrum, if teacher’s lose tenure, then they feel they can be fired for political, economic, and matters of personal interest within the school, the school district, or even the state. “If the biggest problem, as some of these critics say, is that we have too many incompetent teachers and it needs to be easier to fire them, I would suggest their hiring and evaluation system is broken,” says Dennis van Roekel, president of the National Education Association. What he is saying is, if the teachers are evaluated properly, then the evaluators should have no problem weeding out the bad teachers from the good. In my opinion, the whole United States school system is flawed because society as a whole is too lazy to do their job the right way, so in essence, the trickle down effect plays on a much larger scale. If people would do things the correct way, then the issue of tenure would not even be an issue at all.
I sat down with a teacher last week who also happens to be my sister, Jennifer Kennedy. She graduated with a degree in American Studies, and has a certificate in early childhood development from Rowan University. She’s a strongly opinionated person at heart, so I felt she was the perfect person for the interview. When I asked her what she felt about tenure in the state of New Jersey, she strongly felt that it should be terminated.
“What is wrong with teachers today is this, if a teacher gets tenure, they tend to be lazy, and unmotivated, so they stop doing their job to the best of their ability.”
I could not agree with her more. If people do not take accountability for their job, then they should not have it. I also asked her if there were any other reasons why she felt this way, and compared it to other jobs in America. “Many other jobs in this country are performance based only. If you do your job well, then you should be kept on, but if your not then you lose your job plain and simple.”
Once again, I agreed with her statement. In the end, tenure is a great thing for people who do the right thing. Unfortunately, our country is flaw in more ways than one, but I believe that education system is causing it. Ending tenure will not only help our state financially, but will also drive teachers to do a better job, but this could lead to administration hiring those of their choosing.