Government Reform

Starving Beast Snacks On Teacher Tenure Protections?


If you can spell "retirement," thank a teacher

Teachers unions have long operated on the "the last shall be first" principle when it comes to layoffs: Last hired, first fired, almost no questions asked.

But states are running out of money, and Dropout Nation's RiShawn Biddle spots a trend of three that suggests starving the state government beasts may be taking a bite out of previously sacrosanct teacher tenure protections.

In addition to teacher firings in D.C. (something I wrote about at length here), there's California:

Last month, the gargantuan Los Angeles Unified School District presented a plan to end last hired-first fired as part of a series of reforms of how it will pay for—and manage—teacher performance….California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Democrat-dominated state legislature—which has been unified on school reform as of late—may end up abolishing a state law mandating reverse-seniority layoffs by year's end.

And New York:

Besides convincing New York State legislators to consider a proposal to eliminate state rules mandating last hired-first fired layoffs, it is also rallying the 30,000 new teachers it has hired this past decade—28 percent of whom would lose jobs under any proposed layoff—to challenge the AFT local's defense of the status quo. Declared the school district's chancellor, Joel Klein, last month in the New York Times: "Nobody I've talked to thinks seniority is a rational way to go."

Biddle writes that 36 percent of teachers are Boomers, on their way to retirement, and hopes that when they start to cash out in droves, "last hired-first fired (along with tenure) may go the way of the Lava Lamp."

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  1. “Happy Retiremet”

    …almost as good as “SAVE ARE TEACHERS”

  2. Retaining good teachers and firing bad ones is unfair.

  3. Teachers should never be fired.

    1. I agree

  4. I’ve never understood why we fall for the union crap about tenure. It’s not relevant to K-12 education, where merit in teaching–for the children!–should take total precedence over “time served.”

    At universities, there’s at least some justification for tenure for professors involved in research, but even that is questionable in many departments.

    1. Worse. In NY, public school teachers get tenure after three years. At even the state colleges, it’s seven years for professors.

      Not only do professors have more of a claim to tenure (if such a claim can be valid), they take longer to earn it.

      1. I just don’t get it at all. Why do the rest of us tolerate this nonsense? Obviously, even the “for the children” claim fails to support this assault on all things meritorious.

      2. And a lot more work to get it, especially at research institutions. A book length study and numerous articles plus teaching etc is the norm in order to get tenure.

    2. No one should get tenure. Want to see a uninspired, boring teacher pull out the guy that has had tenure for the last 25 years and still uses the same class plan he originally made 25 years ago only difference is now it has 25 years of coffee stains all over it.

      Tenure is like tipping before you get your meal.

      1. The irony is that the good teachers tend to hate tenure, too, for the same reasons we do: It protects people who have no business teaching our kids. I spent a lot of my childhood helping out my mother, an elementary teacher, so I’ve had a little different perspective into the world of our supposed educators. In response to a local issue, I also went back and talked with some of my former teachers that I felt did a good job. Lo and behold, tenure was almost universally derided.

        Now, the downside to terminating tenure: It actually does protect the good teachers from time to time, particularly when something they can’t control might otherwise end their positive contributions. Simply removing that protection alone is a bad idea unless you think the hard left wouldn’t take advantage of its absence to bomb every decent and rational teacher with complaints of PC violations to get them fired. We want tenure removed, and the good teachers want it removed, but we also need to decentralize and debureaucratize power in the school systems. The most effective move, in my opinion, would be to move the hiring and firing away from district control and down to the principals. It’s the same concept as in the military: If you want to know how a particular PFC is doing, you ask his sergeant, platoon sergeant, or lieutenant, not some general way up the chain of command. Toss in an one-shot appeal process to the principal’s superior to keep down personal grudge firings and call it a day. Of course, since money is an issue, firing most of the cash-sucking do-nothings in district administration would also be nice, but one thing at a time, eh?

        1. The best defense of tenure is to ensure that academia doesn’t start simply firing non-ultra-liberal party line hacks. Academia is already ridiculously left leaning. The end of tenure would start a firing frenzy which would make the university system an even bigger institution for social engineering than ut already is.

  5. “Biddle writes that 36 percent of teachers are Boomers, on their way to retirement, and hopes that when they start to cash out in droves, that the bigger worry isn’t that cities/school districts aren’t completely broke from paying retirees’ pensions, and thus are unable to afford to pay current teachers salaries, much less hire new teachers or fund their retirements. Maybe then LIFO layoff rules will become our primary concern.”


    1. Oh, and “aren’t completely broke” = “are completely broke”. For this post anyway…:)

      1. You nailed it on the head. The states are better off keeping the tenured teachers that are still working off 25 year old lesson plans until they die because if they retire, a state like California will still be on the hook for their full fucking salary without actually getting any of their “work” out of the deal.

        Translation: the whole system is fucked.

  6. From the Widget Report: Parents ask: who are the best teachers, and where do they teach? The question is simple enough. There’s just one problem?except for word of mouth from other parents, no one can tell you the answers. In fact, you would be dismayed to discover that not only can no one tell you which teachers are most effective, they also cannot say which are the least effective or which fall in between.

    Colorado is about to change this with the passage of SB 191. This bill will link educators to their effectiveness. Citizens are signing petitions at

  7. This always struck me as a retarded policy. It leaves a huge gap in your experience range. You’re going to be left with a bunch of old fuckers & no new ideas. Kind of like congress.

    1. Death panels might just be our salvation.

  8. Biddle writes that 36 percent of teachers are Boomers…

    Boomers. Is there ANY social or financial ill for which they are not culpable?

    Nope. Not a one.

  9. Let’s give complete control to Principals and District administrators as to who should be fired. So when they want to cut the budget, they can fire experienced teachers right before their full retirement benefits kick-in, thus saving the most money and keeping teachers’salary and benefits at the lowest pay possible.

    Ya see, we have to make sure top executives in the business world have salaries that are hundreds of times better than the average person, and government regulations to ensure that top executives can maintain their pay, because they are the ones who really deserve the most money because of the tremendous benefits of the “financial products” that they create, like risky mortgage backed securities that appear safe, but really are not. DO NOT DEMAND LOWER PAY OR BENEFITS FOR FINANCIAL EXECUTIVES. It’s the greedy city unions that are to blame. Can’t everyone see that!

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