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The Best Articles For Helping To Understand Both Why Teacher Tenure Is Important & The Reasons Behind Seniority-Based Layoffs

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Teacher tenure is under attack in several states (and, just , two more articles about these efforts appeared in the Christian Science Monitor and at NPR). Given this effort, I thought a list on this topic would be useful. (Since I originally posted this list, I’ve edited it to include an important and related topic — seniority based layoffs).

Here are my choices for The Best Articles For Helping To Understand Why Teacher Tenure Is Important:

The myth of teacher tenure is a piece by professor Perry Zirkel. It appeared at the Washington Post blog of Valerie Strauss.

Positives, negatives, problems and some suggestions for tenure is by Stephen P. Blum, the president of the Ventura Unified Education Association.

What Teacher Tenure Is — And What It’s Not appeared in NEA .

The Times’ Tenure Math Problem is a very interesting post by Corey Bower.

Is it Time to Trash Tenure? is by Anthony Cody at Ed Week.

Hess Cherry-Picks Hechinger is a short, but useful, post by John Thompson over at This Week In Education.

These next two resources are wide-ranging interviews with Diane Ravitch where she responds to questions about many school reform issues, including ones on teacher tenure. One is from The Economic Policy Institute and the other is from GOOD.

Using Tenure Reform for Political Points comes from The Learning First blog.

You Bet Your LIFO (last in/first out) is a great post by Nancy Flanagan at Ed Week.

A Quality-Based Look At Seniority-Based Layoffs comes from The Shanker blog.

The New York Post has an article opposing the use of seniority in lay-offs, but Anthony Cody has left a nice, short, and useful comment summarizing the problems with eliminating its use.

Teacher Tenure Necessary, Says Teachers’ Unions is the headline of a very useful NPR interview with Randi Weingarten of the United Federation of Teachers.

Students First, Facts Later comes from The Shanker Blog.

Indiana Informs Wisconsin’s Push is a very interesting article in The New York Times. Not only does it provide a scary picture of what happens without collective bargaining, it also includes a quote from a political supporter of Wisconsin Governor Walker’s bill eliminating it that explains what teacher tenure is so important:

“I’ve talked to many teachers and public works employees in my county,” he said, “and almost every conversation comes around to the impact on their seniority and their concerns that their boss doesn’t like them and they won’t be treated fairly, and frankly I think there’s something to that.”

There have been some good posts challenging comments by some “school reformers” that the experience of having many years in the classroom is over-rated. They say that after the first few years, it has no impact on student achievement. Here are some posts rebutting that claim:

The Teaching Experience at the Shanker Blog

Teaching experience matters! is from NYC Public School Parents

Firing Teachers with Due Process is a good piece from Forbes that rebuts a different claim — that it takes many years to get rid of a bad teacher.

What Is the Meaning of LIFO: You’re Fired Mr. Chips! is a good piece recounting the history of “Last Hired: First Fired.”

In Performance Evaluations, Subjectivity Is Not Random is from The Shanker Blog.

Experience makes teachers better — we’re worth the cost is by Edward Johnson.

How to Raise the Status of Teachers is the title of a decidedly less-than-impressive collection of responses to that question in The New York Times. However, the piece by Samuel Colbert, Allow More Autonomy, does stand-out. He is the author of a similarly impressive piece that The Times previously published, Why Your Boss Is Wrong About You.

Restocking teachers: The math doesn’t add up by Dennis Van Roekel.

LIFO is good Part II is by Gary Rubinstein.

Thinking through cost-benefit analysis and layoff policies comes from School Finance 101.

Teacher Defends Seniority Rights is by by Julie Cavanagh.

Removing Teachers at Will is by Walt Gardner at Education Week.

Rhee Battles Last in, First Out: An Unemployed, New Teacher’s Perspective comes from the Political Ennui blog.

The People Who Want To Get Rid Of Tenure & Say Teacher Experience Isn’t That Important Should Read This Interview

Our Experience Proves Tenure Is Not Obsolete is from Gotham Schools.

Here’s a great piece by Norm Scott on tenure that appeared, in all places, the Costco Newsletter.

LIFO Also Protects Good Teachers is by Walt Gardner at Education Week.

Unexpected Benefits: A Defense of Teacher Tenure is from Ed Week.

What’s Missing In The Debate On Senority? is a new report from Annenberg Institute for School Reform. It’s probably the best analysis of the topic that I’ve seen.

Why Are Teachers So Upset? is by Diane Ravitch.

Tenure Protects Good Teachers is by John Wilson at Ed Week.

Abolish Tenure? is by Richard Kahlenberg.

Is Seniority for Teachers Bad for Students? is by Anthony Cody at Education Week.

On the need for unions and seniority is by David B. Cohen.

This Just In: Experience Matters is from The American Institutes of Research.

Quote Of The Day: Creating Stability In Communities

Notes on the Seniority Smokescreen is from School Finance 101.

The need for seniority in schools is by Lisa Haver.

The Case Against Tenure Seems Weak is by Paul Bruno.

All schools should have good teachers is from The Los Angeles Times.

How Seniority Reform Backfired In Minneapolis is by John Thompson.

The question of experience—teaching made simple? is by Barnett Berry.

Eliminating teacher tenure won’t improve education is from The Washington Post.

Pedro Noguera Defends Teacher Tenure in Wall Street Journal is from Diane Ravitch’s blog.

Additional suggestions are welcome.

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You might also want to explore the over 600 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

One Comment

  1. There certainly are some advantages to teacher tenure, but you have to seriously address the problem of how to weed out poorly performing teachers. We all know of at least a few teachers that are not living up to their potential, and some that just shouldn’t be teaching at all. Letting these individuals hide behind last in first out rules hurts our vulnerable students.

    If you want to keep the concept of teacher seniority then you have to make it much easier for administrators and parents to thoughtfully evaluate and select the best teachers. Remember, these students are the children of these parents and they deserve a stronger say in determining the learning environment.

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