Republican 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."