Are Tenured Teachers Destroying Our Educational Institutions?
Aug 28, 2010 Teaching 2486 Views
People who do not work in the educational system are often surprised when they learn about the tenure system. After all, in most professions a person is held accountable for their skills, initiative, and effectiveness, regardless of how long they have been employed. New and more experienced employees alike are expected to live up to the expectations of their job every day, without there being a certainty of continued employment. However, in public school systems and colleges, it's only the new teachers who seem to be held accountable. After a teacher or professor becomes "tenured," their job is pretty much guaranteed.
Tenured Doesn't Necessarily Mean Effective
Besides an overall lack of accountability, the tenure system has the effect of retaining the older and tenured educators, while the up and coming educators are sometimes let go because of budget constraints. Many of these new teachers and professors are fresh out of college themselves, and are quite enthusiastic and passionate about the field of education. However, many times it's these passionate educators that find themselves out of a job. Instead, the school or college is left with the tenured teachers, many of whom may have lost their "fire" and enthusiasm years ago. Although it's true that many tenured teachers remain on the cutting edge of the educational process, many simply do not.
Lack of Accountability
In a lot of ways, education has become a business. Instead of focusing on the needs of the students, schools and colleges are more about budgets, numbers, and even politics. Some defend the tenure system as a way of insuring freedom of speech for educators, without them needing to worry about losing their job because of their opinions. While this might be a good thing, it also means that a person is not necessarily held responsible for any shortcomings they may have as an educator. After all, if you knew your job was secure no matter what you did... or didn't do... would you be as motivated to do a great job?
What Can Be Done?
Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be an easy answer to the tenure dilemma. This system has been in place for a long time, and change often doesn't come easy to established educational systems. However, there are some things that could be done to help encourage the accountability of all teachers and professors. In public schools, it is becoming increasingly common to have an open enrollment system, meaning that a student is not limited to one particular school. The fact that students and parents have choices serves as sort of a "checks and balances" system. The end result of this kind of system is a renewed interest on the part of the school systems and educators to do a good job, so that they "earn" the students that come to their school. The problem is not so easily addressed in colleges, however. If the tenure system remains, there should be an increased emphasis on making sure that tenured educators aren't just taking advantage of the fact that their job is virtually guaranteed. Instead, there should be a renewed interest in system supporting the good teachers, regardless of whether they are tenured or not.