Bill would end tenure protections for teachers

Mar. 23, 2013 @ 03:24 PM

State Senator Phil Berger, R-26, introduced the Excellent Public Schools Act of 2013 last week. The bill is similar to one he proposed during the last session, but not all aspects of the bill passed. 

The bill proposes to end teacher tenure, strengthen teacher education and licensing requirements, assign school performance grades, maximize instructional time and other measures. 

The bill passed its first reading and was referred to the committee on education and higher education. 

"The days of accepting a broken education system are over," Berger said in a statement. "We must continue to demand better results and positive change. This bill will ensure our students receive instruction from the most highly-motivated and effective teachers and are equipped with a strong skill set that prepares them for the future."

Section 6 of the bill repeals career status, commonly referred to as tenure, unless the teacher has received status prior to 2012-2013. The bill also sets up a system to grade schools and rewards teachers based on the grade the school received. Teachers and administrators in poor-performing schools may be dismissed after two consecutive poor evaluations. Though they have 30 days to request a hearing. 

Kim Hargett, president of the Union County Association of Educators and district directors of the North Carolina Association of Educators, said the teachers approach performance from a different angle. 

"Our idea is that the energy needs to be spent, instead of spending so much energy in creating another level of bureaucracy and getting rid of what is a small percentage of poor teachers...instead of spending so much energy and precious resources, we feel it should be on the front end," Hargett said. 

North Carolina is currently 46th in the nation for average teacher's salaries.

Hargett thinks teaching should be attractive enough that there are 10 applicants for every open positions. 

"That is not the case right now," Hargett said. 

When people talk about poor educators, Hargett said the person was most likely hired at a point when the school was looking for somebody to step into a position. 

"We don't want to hire poor teachers in the first place," Hargett said. "We don't want them in the classroom in the first place." 

Hargett also said the term tenure is incorrect, because teachers earn career status. She added that the perception of career status is also off. 

"It is not a job for life," Hargett said. "I think there is a misconception that once a teacher obtains career status that they're set...and that simply is not true." 

Career status means there must be due process before a teacher is let go and there are already a number of reasons that teachers may be let go, Hargett said. 

The bill is currently in committee and must pass through the House of Representatives.