Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Proposition 74: Teacher Tenure

Fight the Lies!
End the blame game !
Vote No on Prop. 74. Vote No on Prop. 75

There will be at least eight initiatives on the November 8 ballot, and three have particular importance to public schools.

74 Prop. 74 would extend the required probationary period for k-12 teachers from two to five years. Proponents say that this will give administrators more time to evaluate new teachers to be certain that they deserve “tenure”. Yet experience tells us that a probationary teacher can get consistently good evaluations and still be let go by a district without reason or an appeal.
At the k-12 level, what is called tenure is simply the right to due process- an opportunity to improve, and the right to a hearing. Proposition 74 would require the district to begin dismissal proceedings with no opportunity to improve.
Fortunately, through a decade of organizing and political work, teachers in public schools in California and many other states in the U.S. have achieved the legal process of tenure. Teachers, working with others, established tenure to keep partisan politics out of the public schools. All tenure does is protect teachers from arbitrary dismissal. It protects the due process rights of teachers. Poor teachers are dismissed under the current system. You may have read about these dismissals in the newspapers.
Quality principals at times remove poor teachers. Tenure does not prevent the removal of the incompetent teachers. It only provides procedural safeguards against arbitrary and capricious dismissal.
Why is this so important? Because arbitrary hiring and firing once happened frequently. Hiring and dismissal of teachers was too often a petty, patronage based, unprofessional process by school boards and principals. Tenure is very important. It protects teacher’s freedom to speak and their basic citizenship rights. As a teacher you can speak out, disagree with your principal without having to fear that your school board or your principal is going to fire you.
Proposition 74 does nothing to improve learning or to attract and retain quality teachers. It targets teachers as the problem in our public schools, ignoring the inadequate levels of funding provided by the governor and the legislators.

For more information: www.choosingdemocracy.blogspot.com
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