Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Is Tenure a Strike Issue?

With the recent announcement by the DOE that tenure, as we have known it, will change the question remains, how. In their press announcement the DOE has cited the media created hysteria over tenure vowing to end or at least modify tenure "since it is a job for life."

The modifications, although not specific, contain some very troubling guidelines including a principals' "incentive" to reward those who don't grant tenure by allowing hiring outside of the hiring freeze.

The new guidelines also signal a move to remove tenure entirely or at least make it so difficult that only a few will be granted. Think about it. The law on tenure allows the DOE almost unfettered discretion in its decision making. What is to stop them from just not granting tenure at all and requiring probationers to annually extend their probation until they are eligible to retire?

In order to see if this is legally permissible is necessary to understand a little about the state of current tenure law.

Despite current misconceptions tenure is not "given" by the DOE. The only legal requirement for tenure is actually time; three years for teachers. After a three year period, within license, of being on payroll and the DOE has done nothing to stop the clock, you are automatically granted tenure. In fact you can be theoretically rated unsatisfactory for each of the three years and still get tenure if the DOE doesn't fire you or cause you to extend your probation.

Any other requirement for tenure is for the DOE to implement. The only legal requirement is that tenure not be denied "in bad faith." Does denying tenure to all teachers constitute "bad faith?" Perhaps, but it will probably take a court to determine this issue and a Union willing to bring a case.

If the DOE unilaterally decides to end tenure in this fashion and is successful it will end our Union and professional education in our city. This may be a long range plan for our employer and like tenure, only time will tell.

So, is tenure a strike issue? I am reminded of one of my first arguments with Randi Weingarten in the early days of the Bloomberg administration at a Chapter Leaders' retreat. After making it clear how a strike or job action was almost never justified I asked her whether there was "any" strike issue.

She thought for a moment and said, "Yeah, tenure."


Anonymous said...

Well, we know Randi will back-pedal on that too. But tenure really does need some type of overhaul because I have seen teachers who don't deserve it, getting it. My former principal withheld tenure on an ineffective teacher for 6 additional months, and then granted it. I know it's difficult to get in some LI districts (unless you are very connected).

The thing is putting a "limit" on the number of teachers getting tenure seems unjustified. If you put in place new guidelines and all the new teachers meet it, then you cannot become subjective. By doing so, you will crush so many individuals whose life-long dream is to become a teacher. Also, there should be meaningful mentoring during the process.

The Union has to fight those guidelines that will kill tenure, and include mentoring. I would also hope they bring back teacher input on hirings and tenure. We need to be part of the process.

Anonymous said...

Nice of you to delete my comment...there will never be a strike since the UFT never fought to counteract the Taylor Law.

Anonymous said...

All comments seem to be deleted on this and the former posts.


Anonymous said...

We need to restore the c30 committees and allow teachers and the community more imput into the hiring of principals. The requirements for principals must be stricter The Leadeship Academy must be shut down and any principal from it be either retrained by attending a real college, or terminated.

Anonymous said...

A strike issue; surely you are not serious. UFT will never strike; they will lose the automatic dues checkoff. The Unity empire is built on those dues.

Anonymous said...

It's time to demand and regain fundamental employment rights. The most obvious of which is SENIORITY TRANSFER. And in conjunction, an harassment action must be filed each time the DOE brings to the bargaining table the issue of firing ATRs as this "already won" issue is not and will never be negotiable.