Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Ryan Sager is spot on:



 Ryan Sager, January 19, 2007, NY Post


IF Mayor Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein don't go down in New York City history as the team that turned the public schools around, it won't be for lack of effort, new ideas or boldness. In his State of the City Address on Wednesday, the mayor made clear that he wants to make the last three years of his tenure count on this score as much as the first five.

And one way he's looking to do that is by reforming tenure. Teacher tenure, that is.

Teachers in New York City's public schools now gain tenure after three years in the system. Officially, a "review" process ensures some degree of quality control; in fact, the process is mostly on auto-pilot. A full 99 percent of teachers who stick it out for three years win lifetime tenure, reports the Department of Education, with little or no consideration given to the individual teacher's success or failure in the classroom.

That's lifetime tenure - lifetime job security and the promise of lockstep pay hikes awarded for years served.

Whether you're the inspirational math teacher played by Edward James Olmos in "Stand and Deliver" or Ben Stein's droning economics teacher from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," you're golden. You essentially can't be fired - without a principal going through years of paperwork and endless union grievance processes - come hell or high water.

Simply put, the tenure system, coupled with the grievance system, has protected for decades thousands upon thousands of teachers who simply can't do their jobs.

Now Bloomberg and Klein are saying enough: Tenure must be earned, not simply given away. And they've got a clever plan to get their way.

But first, two words on the whole concept of tenure for public-school teachers: It's nuts.

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