Monday, March 14, 2011

On Raising the Bar for Tenure

I feel very emotionally affected by the mess that is the US* politics of education. I hate the thought that I could be forced to stay in international education for years because my job in the States would be too unstable once I re-enter the public education sector. I got into the business to help kids, and although there are kids who need help everywhere in the world, the places where I can make the most direct impact are in inner-city schools where I could potentially really change some of their lives. And I would like to think that at some point in the future, regardless of where I've been or what I've learned, I would return to do my part. And I would also like to think that I would be able to find an urban school with like-minded teachers and administrators -- one where I could potentially stay happily for a long, long time.

And God knows that when I do find myself in such a situation, I wouldn't want to be additionally dealing with the uncertainty of whether I would be able to keep my job the next year. In enforcing unpopular policies, the States* is definitely not encouraging teachers like me who have the option to work elsewhere, to return to the States. (And I'm only a young-ish 5th-year teacher; think about those who are much more qualified/experienced than me, but who have a family to raise and therefore have much more to lose. Would you return to the States right now with your family amid such a mess, in hopes of saving the world, one child at a time?)

All of that is a preamble to this: I really resonated with this blog post, which I think offers some great suggestions for balancing how much we protect young teachers versus how much we protect the more experienced teachers. If we raise the bar for receiving tenure, then we would less likely have to get rid of qualified teachers from one school simply because we need to find places for other tenured teachers. It would give everyone hope for working towards that level of job security, by actually doing a good job.

Am I just being naive and hopeful that there could actually be a solution?

*Obviously, the policies vary per state, but it seems like it's the same problem all over -- not enough union or too much union. Either way, as a young teacher but also someone who intends on sticking around in a system for the long haul, I would be screwed either one way or the other.

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