Tenure in Schools Needs to Go

Everyone loves to talk about how America’s schools are failing. They all have their ideas as to why — everything from funding to the No Child Left Behind Act. Most school administrators would tell you it’s a lack of extra support services.

Do you want to know what this mom thinks? I think it’s the tenure system.

Every teacher or family member of a teacher that just read this is probably groaning, rolling their eyes and possibly clicking away right now, but hear me out.

My oldest has been in public school for 2 years now (she’s in the 1st grade). Both years she has had less than great teachers that spent more time out of the classroom than in. It was bad in kindergarten with the teacher disinterested in the curriculum and leaving the classroom an average of once a week, but in 1st grade, the teacher is out more than she’s in. When she’s in the classroom, my daughter tells me she frequently screams at the kids and tells them they’re not doing enough.

She hates her teacher and what’s worse is that she hates school at this point. She’s in 1st grade. She’s supposed to love school.

She has nightly homework which consists of reading, math and vocabulary words (we were pressured to finish all of the 1st grade sight words within the first few weeks of school). If she has any unfinished desk work from the day, that comes home too. She gets home in the afternoon at 3:30pm. If we have any after school activities or would just like to just enjoy the nice weather a little bit, there’s very little time left for homework, so she winds up having to stay up late to finish it, leaving her tired the next day. I tried skipping the homework on days when she had activities, but the teacher found out and screamed at her along with the other kids that had been doing the same thing on days that they had any other obligations.

All of the parents in this classroom know the teacher is screaming at the kids. We all comment on how frequently they have substitutes (2-3 times a week) The other teachers in the school know. The principal knows. Everyone knows. This is not unusual.

I questioned the substitute issue. Apparently on days when the teacher has an IEP meeting with a parent, they call in a substitute for the day. Apparently there are a lot of kids in that school with an IEP and she can’t meet with more than one of their parents per day. I’m making some broad assumptions here, there’s only 20 kids in the class.

The screaming issue however, the teacher vehemently denies. She says she gets a little excited. I told her the kids are interpreting it as screaming. That was a mistake. She screamed at the kids for telling their parents she was screaming at them.

The school can’t remove her. She’s not physically hurting the kids (only mentally) and she has tenure. Ah tenure. I hate tenure. Job protection should not exist in a performance-based field. If a teacher is unable to teach because they have lost their passion or are just plain crazy, they should not have job protection. It should not take hurting a child for a teacher to be replaced. The schools should be able to always have the option of bringing in better people.

I know that there are districts that would abuse this ability by constantly bringing in younger teachers at lower pay grades, so make them justify the firings to the school committee. I think being bat-shit crazy and yelling at kids almost daily would be a justifiable offense though.

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