Jersey jazzman has another great piece about tenure. He writes: “I can only hope that Campbell Brown’s appearance last night on The Colbert Report is typical of what she is going to bring to the debate over school workplace protections. Because if this is the best the anti-tenure side can muster, we teachers will easily win the debate — provided we ever get a chance to participate.” –

Watch the priceless video of Stephen Colbert interviewing Campbell Brown, who is leading a campaign to eliminate teacher tenure in New York. Colbert asks her to reveal her donors. She replies that she won’t do that because the few dozen protestors outside with hand-lettered signs might harass them. She says the protesters are trying to silence her, but of course she is on national television and they are not. She doesn’t look silenced.

JJ writes:

“It’s all about the kids.” As I’ve said before, that is a ridiculous argument against tenure on two levels:

1) Tenure isn’t just good for teachers; it’s good for parents, taxpayers, and students. Tenure allows teachers to be whistleblowers and advocates for children when doing the right thing may be unpopular with school boards and parents. As Colbert pointed out, it allows teachers academic freedom in a time when powerful interests want to teach our children junk science, revisionist history, and prejudiced attitudes.

2) Just because something is good for teachers doesn’t mean it is automatically bad for students. Yes, tenure makes it harder to fire teachers; that’s the point. But no one has ever shown granting tenure impedes a teacher’s effectiveness or makes the teaching corps as a whole less effective.

As I’ve pointed out time and again, tenure has a real economic value for teachers, yet costs taxpayers very little. If you can’t show tenure harms children — and no, the Vergara decision did not show this, which is why it will almost certainly be overturned on appeal — why wouldn’t taxpayers grant it to both protect their interests and minimize the budgetary impact of teacher compensation? Getting rid of tenure is a terrible economic decision for taxpayers.

The idea that anything good for teachers must be bad for students is one of the most pernicious arguments to come from the reformy camp. It’s nothing more than an illogical appeal to emotion, and it tacitly casts teachers as villains when they dare to stand up for themselves. It needs to stop.

– Colbert very wisely makes the connection to school funding (he doesn’t understand how school funding weighting works, but give the man some slack), arguing that a civil rights stance on tenure must logically also support making sure all students have adequate resources. As Bruce Baker has pointed out many times, New York is one of the worst states in the nation when it comes to school funding fairness; states like New Jersey which (until lately) have equity as a goal do much better overall in student achievement.

And here are the questions by JJ that show what utter nonsense Campbell Brown’s campaign is:

“Campbell, a few miles away from New York City are some of the wealthiest and highest-performing school districts in the United States, if not the world. All of these districts have unionized teachers, step-guide contracts, tenure protections, and seniority. If tenure is the cause of bad teaching in poor districts, why do wealthy districts with tenure do so well?

“And if you really believe that the teachers in poor areas are not as good as those in wealthy areas, how will getting rid of job protections help bring in better teacher candidates? Why would anyone want to teach in a city district, subject to far more political interference, when they can decamp for the leafy ‘burbs and avoid that nonsense?”

– See more at: