LG responds to another reader who suggested that eliminating unions and tenure was “part of the solution” to reinventing education:

“I can tell you that eliminating teacher unions is part of the solution, not THE solution. Self-interest groups have to lay down their swords. There are so many structural changes we need to make to our public education system. Lifetime tenure and ‘last-in, first out’ policies are only pieces of the puzzle.”

You still have not responded to the request made in another post for just what exactly the unions are doing that is bad for public education. Instead, you are spewing the same “unions are bad” stuff with no evidence of how.

Let’s shed a little light on the misinformation in your comments.

Lifetime tenure does not mean “lifetime job.” School districts have the power to bring tenure charges up on ANY tenured teacher and prove such charges are with merit. At that point, districts can and do terminate tenured teachers’ contracts. The power is with the school districts–if they do not prove that their charges are valid, then that is on them, not the unions.

The unions only protect the tenured employee’s right to a hearing on the matter. This is actually a good thing for the schools because it gives teachers a chance to speak up for themselves without fear of being fired for frivolous reasons. It provides some validity to termination instead of allowing districts to terminate teachers’ contracts for political reasons.

Tenure also grants a teacher academic freedom: “…the freedom of teachers…to teach, study, and pursue knowledge and research without unreasonable interference or restriction from law, institutional regulations, or public pressure. Its basic elements include the freedom of teachers to inquire into any subject that evokes their intellectual concern; to present their findings to their students, colleagues, and others; to publish their data and conclusions without control or censorship; and to teach in the manner they consider professionally appropriate.” (Fromhttp://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/2591/academic-freedom)

Tenure is good for the schools because it encourages a dedicated staff of individuals to stay in a particular district. In the private sector, the instances of “job-hopping” (at least in a decent economy) are much greater as employees are always trying to get better-paying positions. You are aware that teachers cannot transfer tenure rights from district to district in order to get better compensation packages, right? Some districts will grant a new hire a few years against the salary schedule for “some” experience, but tenure has to be re-earned every time a teacher switches to a new district. It does not behoove teachers to go “job-hopping” since they always have to earn tenure again and again.

Non-tenured teachers live in fear that they will be fired because the principal doesn’t like their personalities or the way they part their hair. Tenured teachers have more incentive to stay with their districts. Therefore, you get a staff of teachers who invest in the school district and community. They have a vested interest in the district since they are teaching in it over the long haul.

“Last in, first out” is not a perfect system, but without it, public schools would be filled with novice teachers since districts will seek to cut expenses by firing those at the top of the salary guide.  Districts notoriously hire private contractors to do large work projects on their public buildings using a practice known as “going with the lowest bidder.” For those who believe that cutting expenses in a teaching staff is a good thing, it is important to know that the most experienced teachers are the ones who mentor the novices and even those in the middle of their careers. Experienced teachers know the community and have a stake in the success of the community.

Anyone who knows anything about seniority in the private sector knows that those with the most experience in the company tend to be the people who have the most vested interest in the company. They have the most to gain and the most to lose if the company does or does not do well. Education is not exactly the same, but if you strip LIFO from the public schools, what would behoove teachers to take these jobs in the first place or to engage in professional development that brings them to a better understanding of the jobs they continually do?

Without LIFO, the experienced professionals will just move on thus making a very transient teaching staff with very little vested interest in the community. Eventually you will no longer have an experienced staff since experienced teachers would just be “terminated like expired food” in order to bring in a “fresher” and cheaper workforce. That is what stripping away LIFO will do. How is that better for the schools? If districts do not have a requirement for keeping experienced staff members first, the districts will invariably take the lowest bidder in education staff. Do you seriously want to leave public education to novice teachers?

Tenure protects a community from a transient and completely novice teaching staff. If the community invests in its teachers, the teachers will invest in the community. When people are valued, they are more likely to do their best work compared to when they do not feel valued.

What you are proposing devalues teachers, and that is never good for public education.