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."