Thursday, October 13, 2005

California Proposition 74: Teacher Tenure **Updated**

Next month's special election here in California has several important propositions on the ballot. These were placed on the ballot by Governor Schwartzenegger after failing to agree with the Democrat-controlled legislature on these important issues. In my previous installment on these propositions, I discussed , the redistricting issue, and this week I will discuss , the "teacher tenure" issue.

If enacted, the measure would be officially titled . This measure affects two employment criteria for public school teachers: First, the probationary period for new teachers would be extended from two to five years. Second, school administrators would have the ability to fire lower-performing teachers who have received two consecutive "unsatisfactory evaluations", regardless of their tenure status. The dismissed teacher can, within 30 days of their dismissal, ask for an administrative hearing on their dismissal.

The teachers unions obviously are very upset about this measure. They don't like the idea that their members can be fired for poor performance, and without a prior hearing. Welcome to the real world, teachers!

Most of us——some estimates say 60%* —are employed as "at-will" employees, which means that we can be fired "at-will", with no reasons given. We can also quit under the same circumstances. There are some exceptions to this, of course, but for the most part, an at-will employee can be fired or can quit without reasons or notice, or hearings. Why shouldn't teachers work under the same employment rules as most everyone else?

Obviously collective bargaining agreements have had a lot to do with this issue, and the teachers unions are viscously fighting this proposition, as they stand a lot to lose if it passes. While I am a strong supporter of teachers, and have argued previously that I believe the lion's share of blame for poor student performance lies with parents, I also believe that teachers should be held to the same employment standards as the majority of Americans in the workforce.

Vote YES on 74.

*New estimates are closer to 80%

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