States around the country can't agree on what job protections teachers should be granted. Some states allow teachers to obtain tenure -- a tool that typically grants educators due-process rights -- or other similar job protections after only two years on the job, while others force teachers to work up to five years first. Similarly, while some states hold that teachers without tenure should be the first to go in cases of layoffs, others prohibit tenure from being a factor.
In several states, the issue of teacher tenure is currently playing out in courts.
In Vergara v. California last summer, a group of nine students backed by Silicon Valley millionaire David Welch and his nonprofit, Students Matter, successfully argued that the state's teacher tenure rules violated their civil rights. A judge found that these rules -- which allow educators to obtain job protections after two years and hold that layoffs should be based on seniority -- unconstitutional, unnecessarily keeping bad teachers in classrooms, especially in low-income areas. California Gov. Jerry Brown appealed the judge's ruling in late August.
Similarly, in New York, a lawsuit targeting the state's teacher tenure rules is progressing this summer. Plaintiffs backed by former CNN anchor Campbell Brown and her organization, Partnerships for Educational Justice, are arguing that it is too difficult to fire ineffective teachers.
In North Carolina, on the other hand, an appeals court ruled Tuesday that the legislature's previous attempt to phase out teacher tenure by 2018 was unconstitutional.
“Career status is a critical tool to recruit and retain quality educators, just like fair compensation and working and learning conditions,” Rodney Ellis, president of the North Carolina Association of Educators, said in a statement Tuesday in response to the ruling. “We need to ensure all teachers can focus on educating our kids and helping them be successful and not worried about arbitrary disciplinary actions by administrators outside of the classroom."
Below are two graphics outlining the varying state policies on teacher tenure and job protections and teacher layoffs. In most states, teacher tenure -- which is intended to "protect teachers from arbitrary firings" -- is granted after a probationary period of three years. When districtwide layoffs are necessary, 11 states require that less senior teachers get the boot first. Eleven other states, however, hold that a teacher's evaluation performance should determine whether they are subject to layoffs.
What kinds of job protections do you think teachers should have? Let us know in the comments section.
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