Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

College Could Delay Tenure

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

College Could Delay Tenure

Article excerpt

SCF: As state reconsiders system, 11 instructors wonder, 'Now what?'

MANATEE COUNTY

Outstanding teachers at State College of Florida are typically granted tenure after they complete three years there.

But in a surprise move, SCF's Board of Trustees may delay granting that distinction to 11 eligible teachers this year.

Board members were to vote on the 11 at a meeting today. Instead, Chairman Carlos Beruff scheduled a discussion on proposed changes to the state college tenure system in general.

SCF faculty leaders warn that any delay could leave the teachers, whose contracts expire next month, in legal limbo. Teachers without tenure must have their contracts renewed every year.

"It's disconcerting to know you've done everything asked of you, and then at the very end, it's almost like Lucy yanking the football away from Charlie Brown," said Danny Fuerstman, an SCF political science instructor and one of the 11 teachers up for tenure.

The move comes as tenure at all levels of education has come under intense scrutiny from state lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott, who has expressed a desire to run schools and colleges more like businesses.

State lawmakers in 2011 ended long-term contracts for K-12 teachers, and State Board of Education members are scheduled in July to consider rule changes to continuing contracts that would apply to all 28 state colleges.

SCF's nine trustees -- six of whom were appointed by Scott -- have followed suit, conducting a review of SCF's tenure system in March.

State rules require that colleges offer continuing contracts to faculty members who have earned three satisfactory evaluations during a five-year period.

The proposed new rules would give each college board the option of scrapping tenure or exempting some teaching positions from being eligible.

Critics of tenure say that it is awarded routinely even to average teachers, and that it encourages complacency and allows poor- performing teachers to stay on.

SCF faculty say that is not the case at their college.

Instructors must receive excellent evaluations from students and other faculty members to be recommended for continuing contracts. …

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