Editorial: Teacher tenure should be a privilege, not a right

By The Daily Campus Editorial Board

The Daily Campus, U. Connecticut via UWIRE

Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy has finally decided to tackle the issue of teacher tenure that has been hanging over the state’s head for quite some time. Since 2009, 31 states have reworked their teacher tenure policies including New York and Massachusetts. In his budget address on Feb. 9, Malloy said that he planned to make teacher tenure less of a right and more of a privilege. The first step is lowering the cost and time that it requires to terminate the employment of a teacher who has received tenure. More importantly, his proposal includes a provision that forces teachers to earn their tenure every three to five years. However, he has yet to state what the process behind evaluating teachers will be.

The hope is that this new policy will make it so that Connecticut teachers are constantly evaluated to ensure that students are receiving a high standard of education year after year. Malloy has taken great measures to make it clear that he is pro-teacher. However, this decision could potentially represent a huge change in the way that the Connecticut education system is looked at. The commitment must always be to the students’ education first and foremost, and if a tenured teacher is not providing an adequate education, then there is a need to make a change. Less stringent tenure rules in the state is a step forward for that philosophy.

Adults who devote their careers to teaching the state’s youth deserve a lot of respect. However, simply devoting your heart to education isn’t enough anymore. Students are growing up in an increasingly competitive world. The hope now is that what Malloy uses to evaluate teachers on to earn their tenure is a realistic test of their abilities in the classroom. Education is a system of relative growth, and it’s important that any teachers hoping to gain tenure understand that their performance needs to reach a certain level of excellence and maintain it. The hope is that the governor’s process for evaluating teachers holds to this philosophy and takes a more personal approach to the issue than what exists in other aspects of the Connecticut education system.

Education cannot be an automated process dictated by the state government. It needs to be about effectiveness in the classroom and not just scores on a test or numbers on a page. While those things can be useful and important, the fact of the matter is that Connecticut owes it to younger generations to do everything necessary, including the awkward revisit of teacher tenure laws, to ensure that the people who are educating them are up to date, continually effective and not complacent in their tenured position.

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