Check the Box for Tenure
OK. I’m naïve. An innocent.
After 25 years as an administrator in New York State, I thought all – or at least, most -- administrators made recommendations for tenure carefully, thoughtfully, even painstakingly. Knowing how hard it is to remove a tenured teacher, I thought most of my colleagues worked hard to keep the best and deny the rest. I’ve even blogged about a couple of mistakes I made over 25 years, wishing I could retract my recommendations for tenure. I wrote about how I wouldn’t rehire for a third year a teacher who had been with us for two if I didn’t think he or she would meet the standard for tenure in another year. Rewarding or denying tenure, I thought, was one of the most difficult and important decisions an administrator has to make. After all, tenure, despite what some say, is basically appointment for life.
Well. It turns out that administrators in New York City really didn’t have to bother themselves with all this angst. All they had to do was check a box on the computer screen and voila! Tenure is granted. Who knew it could be so easy?
So now Mayor Bloomberg, always on the cutting edge, thinks it would be a great idea to have principals maybe evaluate non-tenured teachers. He thinks maybe teachers should be rated at minimum “effective” in a couple of areas (like “instructional practice” and “impact on student learning”) before being recommended for tenure. And principals will even have to write a couple of paragraphs supporting their recommendations for tenure.
“I don’t like the extra paperwork involved,” one principal is quoted as saying. “But the reality is, it’s needed.”
The union, of course, is predictably unenthusiastic.
I’m not sure how principals are awarded tenure in the City, but I’d be surprised if it looked any different.
How in the world can you expect outstanding instruction for the kids in New York with a system in which all a teacher has to do is survive three years without doing anything wholly untoward? Last year in New York 6400 teachers were eligible for tenure; 6166 received it. Amazing. Almost 97% were so effective they can be guaranteed a job for life as long as they stay under the radar. Ms. Black will be perfect.