North Carolina Ends Teacher Tenure, Teachers Will Now Have to Be Good at Their Jobs to Keep Them

angry teacherCredit: Montauk Beach / photo on flickrRepublican legislators in North Carolina have pushed through a proposal to revoke lifetime tenure for the state's public school teachers. Currently, all teachers are elligible for tenure after five years on the job, which makes it difficult for school adminstrators to hire, fire, and reward performance.

Under the new plan, top performers will be offered four year contracts, while others will be on one or two year contracts. 

It's not exactly at-will employment—the kind of jobs that most of us have, in which both parties can choose to end the period of employment whenever they like, without advance warning—but it's a heckuva lot closer. 

Naturally, local union officials are flipping out

“It’s going to create a revolving door for public educators in North Carolina,” said Rodney Ellis, president of the North Carolina Association of Educators....

“That’s devastating to the educators and the profession itself,” Ellis said. “It sends the message to people throughout the state of North Carolina that educators aren’t valued for what they do.”

But North Carolina teachers still enjoy more employment protection than pretty much any other schmucks in the state. If the possibility of getting fired from your job means people do not value what you do, then the bosses of America are pretty universally ungrateful assholes. 

This is hardly an unprecedented move by the Tar Heel State. Idaho killed tenure in 2011 [UPDATE: That measure was overturned by voter referendum the following year], and South Dakota, Louisiana, New Mexico, Colorado, and Florida have all moved away from systems where teachers' jobs are sacrosanct as well in recent years. 

At times like these, it's always best to turn to Ghostbusters for some sage wisdom on how to deal with panic induced by changes in the pleasant bubble of academe:

"You don't know what it's like out there. I've worked in the private sector. They expect results."

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  • SweatingGin||

    "Yes, have some"

  • Doctor Whom||

    Teathuglicans hate education and want to keep everyone ignorant. [/progressive]

  • Almanian!||

    This is the end of all education in North Carolina. They're headed back to Neanderthalism, which is what that state deserves for passing such regressive legislation.

    /teacher's union rep

  • Almanian!||

    PS "You've made your tarpit - now go LIE in it!"

  • SweatingGin||

    First apologizing and paying out for forced sterilizations, and then now taking away teacher tenure. Is there no low those wingers won't stoop to?!?

  • RBS||

    This is the end of all education in North Carolina.

    THis is pretty much what every progtard North Carolinian I know has been posting on facebook.

  • WTF||

    Because rewarding better teachers is somehow bad for education?

  • RBS||

    Yeah, I don't try to explain things to them anymore.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Silly you for thinking education means teaching knowledge and skills; it actually means keeping teachers and teacher union cronies employed.

  • Zeb||

    Seriously, that is the argument people are making against this? I'd think that they at least would want to say something about fairness, or threat to the independence of teachers or something (which woudl also be bullshit).

  • RBS||

    You have to understand the North Carolina Progtard. Since the Republicans took over and started destroying the State they've fallen on some intellectually difficult times.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Tenure makes no sense whatsoever in K-12 education. I'm not even sure it's such a great idea at universities, though there's at least an argument for it in research.

  • wareagle||

    Rodney Ellis is in the right job; cognitive dissonance personified. No, Rodney, you ignorant fool; it sends exactly the opposite message, that the state takes teaching so seriously that it wants capable folks in those jobs.

  • chally||

    If NC took teaching seriously, they would not be 48th in the nation when it comes to teacher salaries. Capable people expect to be paid pretty well, unfortunately for the state. Have you ever seen NC teacher salaries? $30,800 the first year. It takes 35+ years to get to $53,000. And sorry, teachers actually do work long days and even in the summer. Grading, planning lessons, etc. never ends. In NC, most newer teachers barely make minimum wage when you factor in the number of hours they ACTUALLY work.

  • Masterbooner||

    Teachers work 40 weeks/year. For your claim that "most newer teachers barely make minimum wage" to be true they'd have to be working 106 hours/week. That's 15 hours/day, 7 days/week for 40 weeks.

    You might wan't to reconsider your statement.

  • np||

  • np||

  • robc||

    The Salon people apparently arent familiar with this:

    http://www.tshirts.in/mart/ima.....t00099.gif

  • BakedPenguin||

    Wow. Asshole public sector union strikes, leaving lower paid workers to fuck or walk. Yet somehow, this is the fault of tech companies that provide transportation to their workers.

    Fuck you, Salon.

  • PH2050||

    Fuck, I hate reading comments on Salon articles. When will I learn.

  • Metazoan||

    I love automation.

  • PH2050||

    Me too! I hope we automate everything so humans can be freed from manual labor and can focus on intellectual pursuits. I think there was a Revolution some time in the past that did the same thing for farmers and many other people but what do I know, I'm a fascist libertarian like Peter Thiel, according to Salon comments.

  • PH2050||

    Unions are "technology averse"?

    Sweet, so seeing their decline is now just a waiting game.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Oh, horror!

    What next, mass executions to reduce pension liabilities?

  • Aresen||

    Since the biggest pension hogs are Assemblymen and other elected politicians, there may be merit to this proposal.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    “It’s going to create a revolving door for public educators in North Carolina,”

    I do not see a problem, here.

  • Tonio||

    Yeah, seriously. We're long past the era of careers which span a lifetime, at least for most people and most jobs. Teaching is the perfect example of a job which most people will only do for a decade or so before retraining and moving on to something else.

  • Zeb||

    Or something to do after a career in some other field. Some of the best teachers I had in high school had done other things first. Especially the math and physics teacher who had been a nuclear engineer in the Navy.

  • Jon Lester||

    One of my math teachers would build a house, live in it until he could sell it, then repeat the process. It wouldn't be as easy now, but in the 1980's, it was possible to do it with some regularity.

  • db||

    I could see doing that, but only if I could be guaranteed the best students. My aunt is a physics teacher but has to teach the students who don't give a fuck as well as the AP classes.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Teaching is the perfect example of a job which most people will only do for a decade or so before retraining and moving on to something else.

    Or vice versa, having moved on from another career using the skills and experienced gained to teach as a post-retirement job.

  • db||

    Teachers generally burn out after 20 years or so at most. Then they spend their 40s and 50s just looking forward to retirement. It's a horrible thing, especially when most of the teachers in a school are on the downhill run.

  • Tonio||

    Teaching is the perfect example of a job which most people will only do for a decade or so before retraining and moving on to something else.

    Yeah. Thanks, everyone.

  • PH2050||

    Damn, I wish you were nearby when my brother and our engineering friends sit around and speculate about how we'll all be out of jobs in 20-30 years and will need to be retrained for working in space or some crazy shit.

  • TW||

    Agreed, I’ve had good teachers and I’ve had teachers who had clearly been doing it for too long and were burnt out. If getting rid of tenure leads to some of the otherwise burnt out teachers moving on to do something different so someone with more energy can take the job for a while, I kind of think that would be a good thing.

  • patskelley||

    No danger of a revolving door, unless this politician believes there are just so many bad teachers right off the gitgo (?!?) It only makes sense - if you can be fired from your job you will try hard NOT to get fired. When you can't get fired ... whatever...is the attitude.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Next up the Republicans are going to rescind the minimum wage and then BOOM! It's back to racial segregation.

  • Aresen||

    Considering that these are public schools, with all the politics involved, I'm guessing that those let go won't necessarily be the bad teachers.

    See as it is North Carolina, I'd bet that teaching evolution would be more career limiting than not teaching at all.

    (TBS, ending tenure is a positive step. I just have no faith in the ability of a Public School Board to decide who is a competent teacher.)

  • Aresen||

    "Seeing as it is North Carolina"

    Preview, dammit!

  • RBS||

    Damn, you sound like you went to public school in South Carolina...

  • Slammer||

    It would be impossible for humans to learn anything from other humans unless we forcibly take money from people to give to other people doing "public" "teaching".

  • db||

    “It sends the message to people throughout the state of North Carolina that educators aren’t valued for what they do.”

    No, the current system is what doesn't value teachers for what they do. It values them all equally no matter what they do. That is the tragic problen.

  • RBS||

    Seriously, it's the opposite. The message is "We value teachers who aren't terrible." Maybe when he says "what they do" he means "show up and collect a paycheck."

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Teaching is the perfect example of a job which most people will only do for a decade or so before retraining and moving on to something else.

    It may be even better as a third or fourth career. The problem now is the difficulty somebody with work and life experience has breaking into the trade as it is currently structured; thanks, union seniority rules.

  • Brett L||

    I had an excellent chemistry teacher in HS. He was a retired PhD who had worked 30 or so years in the O&G industry and was ready for a slower pace and summers off.

  • robc||

    Ditto. Not on all the details but basic concept.

    Also Chemistry.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    “It’s going to create a revolving door for public educators in North Carolina,” said Rodney Ellis, president of the North Carolina Association of Educators....

    I see no problem with that.

    “That’s devastating to the educators and the profession itself,” Ellis said. “It sends the message to people throughout the state of North Carolina that educators aren’t valued for what they do.”

    But they are valued for what they do and when they are good at it, they receive longer contracts. And when they're not good...unless Rodney Ellis is suggesting that North Carolina subject OUR children to bad teachers.

    Because it's still all about the CHILLUNZ.

  • R C Dean||

    You aren't valued for being a teacher. You are valued for teaching well.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    No! Teachers, as well as police officers and fire fighters are always heroes and should be handsomely rewarded in entrenched government jobs; because of their heroic sacrifices!

  • ||

    Anyone else think Ghostbusters is a pretty damn libertarian movie? They start their own business, and the guy from the EPA is the villain.

  • Jordan||

    Yeah, I've always thought that. And in the second one, NY's mayor is a useless asshole.

  • db||

    Practically everyone except Egon, Ray, and Winston is a conniving weasel in that movie. I'll give Louis Tulley the benefit of the doubt for being such a social reject.

    What a great film. I remember seeing in the theater and everyone cheering when the EPA guy got marshmallowed at the end.

  • Tim||

    "Now listen to me, all of you. You are all condemned men. We keep you alive to serve this ship. So row well, and live. "

  • Brett L||

    OT, but tangentially related: Apparently McDonalds workers are trying to hold a nationwide strike for a living wage. Looks like I'm having a Royale with cheese for lunch.

  • RBS||

    Is that supposed to be today?

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Because Brett is to lazy to cut n paste a link. From Forbes:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/cl.....-per-hour/

    This week, hundreds of McDonald’s employees have walked off the job, joining workers from Wendy’s, Burger King and other fast food outlets in a nationwide strike aimed at boosting minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15.

  • Brett L||

    Thanks. I stole it off my lesbian-friend-who-runs-a-domestic-violence hotline's facebook. And then politely suggested that not every job should be a career and pretending that entry-level retail work is a career might be diluting the labor movement's message.

  • RBS||

    They aren't unionized are they? Because this seems like a good way to get a lot of people fired or, if I was the boss I would treat them like they quit.

  • Brett L||

    The traditional way of firing in the food service industry is just to cut people back to one or zero shifts.

    "Oh, you didn't get any hours this week? Check back next week when the schedule comes out."

  • db||

    There are plenty of people out there looking for honest work who would fill those empty spots.

  • GW||

    No there aren't. The existing employees are all brain dead and everyone else is collecting a check from Uncle Sam.

  • Tim||

    Don't get grease on your monocle.

  • Brett L||

    Please, the orphans know better than to touch the monocle while feeding me.

  • Cytotoxic||

    The NC GOP may not be libertarian but they are definitely one of the Red Team's better performers. They are an objective improvement over the usual.

  • PH2050||

    I lived in Greensboro when TEAM Red seized control of state legislature, the tears were delicious.

    What I thought was stupid was the emphasis on banning SSM.

    On the local level, the "conservative" members of city council (stated party affiliation wasn't allowed) were more sane than their compatriots (who, I shit you not, wanted to force businesses to retrofit their outdoor lighting at the total cost of billions because it was inconveniencing astronomers) but were outnumbered.

    G-boro isn't as big as Charlotte or Raleigh so it probably doesn't matter.

  • ||

    It sends the message to people throughout the state of North Carolina that educators aren't valued for what they do.

    Mr. Ellis, I know you're doing this intentionally, but please stop confusing teachers with educators.

  • Slammer||

  • Killazontherun||

    But North Carolina teachers still enjoy more employment protection than pretty much any other schmucks in the state.

    I have a cousin who is a retiring as a teacher in the NC system next year at the age of 52. She has already purchased a home in the most posh neighborhood in North Myrtle Beach to move to, so no, it is not only difficult to feel for the five thousand teachers protesting in Raleigh today, it's impossible.

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    The bullshit that teachers don't make much is infuriating. I know several public school teachers, not one of them makes less than I do as a sysadmin and none of them work even 2/3 of the days that I do.

    I don't know who created this lie or when, but it's one of those "facts" that people just take as gospel truth, like all teachers are poverty stricken and noble for their sacrifice. A guy I went to high school with is now a 6th grade history teacher. He blatantly told me he was going straight through to get a masters in education and going to teach because with a masters, they have to pay you over $60k... Then to top it all off, he gets paid extra if he teaches summer school and coaches summer sports. He "jokes" about not caring if the little bastards pass or not and literally just posts questions and answers on the board and that passes as education. Not a bad gig for around $75k a year...

  • Spartacus||

    On the other hand, he has to spend all day in a room full of 12 year olds.

    I don't know where he is teaching; in my county the bump for having a master's degree is $3000. And around here, summer school slots are few and far between. Most recent years, they haven't had summer school at all.

    Unless you're a football coach, coaching doesn't pay well. In my brief high school career I got a whole $1000 for coaching the swim team. Just sayin'.

    Teaching is a job where you can mostly get away with coasting if that's your thing (at least in the current unionized regime); in that case it's an easy job. If you actually care about students learning something, it's a different story.

  • chally||

    Sounds like your friend is not only a bad person, but extremely lucky. Teachers in NC make $30,800 their first year, and it takes 35+ years to get to $53,000, according to the NC Public Schools salary guide. It is only a 10% jump for a Masters degree (well, it used to be; that increase has been eliminated now). When you factor in how much teachers actually work (sorry, they don't just work during school hours), most make barely minimum wage. Those papers don't grade themselves!

  • The Last American Hero||

    "I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened."

    /Progtard

  • RagingAlbino||

    With the public school system, I can understand from the teachers point if view. My mother is high school teacher in Georgia. Administrators will use some teachers as "dumping grounds," (usually the ones they don't like) wherr they send all the bad kids to that class yet still expect the same good grades just like everyone else when it is borderline impossible to teach some kids who obviously do not want to learn. Teaching is not a fair job.

  • RagingAlbino||

    With the public school system, I can understand from the teachers point if view. My mother is high school teacher in Georgia. Administrators will use some teachers as "dumping grounds," (usually the ones they don't like) wherr they send all the bad kids to that class yet still expect the same good grades just like everyone else when it is borderline impossible to teach some kids who obviously do not want to learn. Teaching is not a fair job.

  • ||

    Lots of jobs in the real world aren't fair. Buck up or move on.

  • Brandybuck||

    I remember watching the movie "Teacher" in the cinema when it came out. It was a good movie, but definitely approached teaching from the left. The climax of the movie was the showdown between teacher Nick Nolte and the school board looking for a scapecope. The pivotal line was, "You can't fire me! I have *tenure*!"

    I remember all the liberals in the audience cheering, while all those in the center and right were going "huh?" (Or at least I imagine it was the liberals cheering, no way to actually know). For me Nolte should have made some speech about how he was a good teacher, how much he cared, how hard he worked, how his students were actually learning, etc, etc. But tenure? That's your argument for your worth to the school? Tenure? WTF?

  • Alec||

    You have a sophomoric understanding of tenure rules at the primary and secondary level. It is not like college. All tenure rights do is, after a usually three year probationary period, offer due process protection. Any teacher can be fired for being terrible. It just takes an administrator willing to go through due process, or identifying them in the three year probationary period. Why is that so hard for folks like you to understand?

  • Spartacus||

    That's pretty much what university tenure does, except that it is not automatic if you can just survive long enough. Our university union agreement (yeah, we have a union) states: "Tenure guarantees annual employment for the academic year until voluntary resignation, retirement, removal for just cause, or layoff...." (emphasis added).

  • Alec||

    Also, the lectures on the "accountability and responsibility" of the private sector are getting a little tired. Pretty sure that public sector workers didn't crash the global economy, but I a pretty sure workers are the only ones paying for it. Heck, the private sector seems to ward failure with million dollar buyouts and bonuses for losers.

  • AlmightyJB||

    "It’s going to create a revolving door for public educators in North Carolina"

    Who thinks less of teachers? If you think that most teachers are too worthless to keep their jobs without protection isn't that kind of the ultimate insult?

  • Free Market Libertarian||

    This is a great victory for the kids in NC. These teachers need to be "almost" at the same level as the rest of the people NC and in this country. Obviously teachers are also at the whim of their students so it can't be 100% like the private sector, but this is a pretty decent change.

    Also NC is rank #22 when it comes to cost of living at the moment so I think some folks are getting a bit confused with current wages there.

    Currently I think the college education system could use the same medicine, with an exemption for legitimate research.

  • LifeStrategies||

    A small step for government employees to find out how the rest of the population lives. But the protected unions don't like it - what a surprise!

    Now this needs to be extended across the nation...

  • MuyBienPatricio||

    A few of my teacher friends on facebook can't stop complaining about this. "Blah Blah Blah this is an outrage why do Republicans hate education!" and "At least we teach in Chicago!" I facepalm everytime I read their comments.

  • Max||

    Most Libertarians here are dead-set against this GOP nonsense.

    Tenure keeps people from being fired arbitrarily. The standards are so arbitrary they've removed extra pay for having a Master's.

    What other profession has to put up with this? REASON should stop parroting right-wing BS.

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