Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Teachers' Tenure-Good or Bad; Yes or No?

Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Teachers' Tenure-Good or Bad; Yes or No?

Article excerpt

Teaching, like motherhood, is a revered institution. Who cannot remember from their school days a teacher who helped set them out on life's great journey beyond the domestic tutorials one might have received at home.

Gee, I still recall some of them in my hometown on the Texas-Mexican border, when social and education apartheid still existed. It didn't stop my parents from seeking out an early schoolhouse education for my brother and me, no matter how primitive the facilities might have been.

There was kindergarten with "la maestra Cata" whose classroom was under a mesquite tree and "Dona Lupita" who flopped us on rickety old benches outside her house to learn the alphabet and nibbles of English.

Then came the Catholic nuns and religious training in a two-room elementary school and on to high school where a fabulous Ms. Ruth McAnally introduced me to journalism and the wonders of academic pursuits.

I can't recall having a bad teacher or someone who didn't teach us something about something. Some did it better than others with different styles and depth but I learned from all of them; English, math, science, whatever.

I, like many others, didn't pay attention to the approach and caliber of instruction only to later recognize that my early education led me toward a university degree, post graduate studies abroad and posited a rewarding professional life.

Needless to say I consider myself fortunate and well-served academically because other than my upbringing, my schoolroom education was an important part of the foundation for my later pursuits in life.

It's a new dawn today for public school teachers and many would say looking a bit cloudy.

The teaching profession in the elementary and secondary sectors is in a crisis currently over tenure, a lifetime job guarantee regardless of performance. For teachers, tenure is sacred and anyone messing with this can expect holy hell from them.

Maybe so, but politicians, academicians and community leaders want to do just that. They think tenure should be eliminated, or at least retooled, to weed out the bad, ineffective teachers too long protected by a job guarantee system that too often impacts negatively on the students it serves.

No one is so naïve as to think job tenure can be eliminatedthe forces are too embedded-but those leading the reform movement think it can and should be reworked.

A teaching job can be a sweet deal because, as some administrators contend, it's almost impossible to fire a teacher once he/she gains tenure after an average three-year performance span. …

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