“Seizing on a national anxiety over poor student performance, many governors are taking aim at a bedrock tradition of public schools: teacher tenure.”
Teacher tenure seems to be a topic of discussion lately, as it should be. Our students are not performing well in school and while teachers are not the main reason that our schools and kids are failing, they are one of the reasons. We need knowledgeable and effective teachers. We need teachers who love teaching and who love teaching kids. We need teachers who can teach in a racially diverse classroom, and we also need teachers who can teach to many different learning styles. We need teachers who can see potential in every child, rather than always viewing his/her classroom as a Bell Curve.
Our public schools grant teachers tenure after teaching for only 2-3 years. The truth is, it takes time to develop an effective teacher. And if we are to accurately assess if a person would make a good teacher, we need to observe their progress for more than a couple of years. The probationary period needs to be much longer. There is simply no way to tell if someone is going to become a “good” teacher after only 3 years.
A well known “ten year/ten thousand hours” rule holds that it takes 10 years or ten thousand hours to reach the level of an expert. So instead of doing away with teacher tenure, probationary period should be much longer than three years. This would allow for more accurate assessment of teachers’ abilities and effectiveness. At the same time, more experienced teachers with years of experience and higher salaries would not be at risk of dismissal due to budget cuts and arbitrary decisions.