May 9, 2016

For years, conservatives have been fighting to end North Carolina’s teacher tenure system that keeps bad teachers in the classroom, only to be blocked by the courts. And while judges bog down tenure reform, real children see their hopes for a better future crushed.

Don’t believe it? Read what a New York school administrator writes in the Wall Street Journal (3/21).

“Not long into my term, however, the ugly reality of the dysfunctional systems working against our students hit me. Far from setting the high expectations our students needed to beat the odds, many teachers and staff reinforced our students’ deepest self-doubts. The young people who needed the best, most motivated educators sat downwind of policies that meant they too often got the least-effective educators.

At the time, most teachers attained tenure after three years in New York. In District 79, most teachers had attained tenure decades before I became superintendent. (Under California’s now-unconstitutional tenure law, teachers achieve tenure even more quickly: 18 months or less.) Annual performance evaluations are supposed to ensure ongoing quality among tenured teachers, but all too often the system fails. In New York 99% of teachers receive “effective” ratings while fewer than 40% of high-schoolers graduate college-ready. Union and management officials admit in private that the results of teacher evaluations have little to do with reality.

Even worse, teachers engaging in egregious conduct, like showing up late 40 times in a single year, physically assaulting a child, or falsifying records (actual examples), incurred no consequences—unless we spent over $100,000 and up to two years to revoke their tenure. Even then, a slow and broken arbitration system could order the teacher back into the classroom due to technicalities.

More shocking, if a teacher is merely incompetent and delivering mediocre lessons, the process is twice as long and costly, even though, as evidence in Vergara v. California established, the damage to students is equally as devastating.”

Who stands in the way of opportunity? Who’s crushing it? Politicians who slavishly defend teacher unions for political reasons. The conservative majority needs to keep fighting for tenure reform. The chance for a child to succeed in life is on the line.