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Eliminate Teacher Tenure

Strategy 1.6: Eliminate tenure, and make teaching a profession based on respect and performance.

StudentsFirst will work to remove tenure provisions from state laws giving local districts the ability to effectively manage their teaching and leadership force and make decisions that are in the best interests of students.

Tenure in K–12 education today means that teachers (and, in many cases, principals) are granted a "job for life" after a relatively short time in the classroom — usually without any serious attempt to evaluate the teacher's effectiveness. In most states, tenure is essentially automatic after two or three years, barring criminal or extreme misconduct. Once granted, the rules and regulations accompanying tenure or permanent contracts make removing even the most unmotivated and ineffective teachers nearly impossible. These policies do nothing to advance the interests of students, but instead serve only to protect adult jobs.

If tenure merely protected teachers from being fired for arbitrary or capricious reasons, StudentsFirst would support it. Professionals should never be concerned they might lose their jobs because of their age, sex, religion, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation. Similarly, we support professionals' rights to fight back if they are wrongfully terminated. Fortunately, well-established federal and state policies allow teachers to challenge wrongful actions and prevent discriminatory firing in public education. Tenure is simply not needed to protect such rights.

To serve the interest of students, tenure must be eliminated so that teachers feel best protected by the quality of their work and the role they play on the teaching team.