Magazines always have articles which involve a "Top Ten". People love to read them yet rarely if ever demand to know the source that determined just which items should be on the list. Well, I thought I would do the same thing. I wondered: What are the Top Ten reasons why public school teachers' tenure should be protected? Only this time the reader will not have to wonder about the mysterious source of these claims. I'm the source! This is my top 10 but unfortunately, I don't have enough space here on The Huffington Post to print all 10 reasons in a single article so today I will share five of them in this post and the remaining five next week. Okay, so here goes:
Five of the Top Ten Reasons why a teacher's right to lifetime tenure should be protected:
Reason #1: We already suffer with an inferiority complex so at the very least we deserve job security.
Think about it: We are attacked by the news media as incompetent, over-paid whiners who refuse to work more than 10 months a year. July and August are a teacher's favorite words in the entire English language! Parents have license to yell at us, create rumors about us, and berate us in front of family, friends, and work associates. The target is always us. The bulls-eye is on our foreheads. We are always under some form of attack. We need to be protected. We deserve tenure.
Reason #2: We are part of the most powerful union in the country.
Nobody roots for Goliath! There are a lot of us and all we seek is to be treated fairly and with respect. We work hard, love children, and we possess the tenacity to finish the job of teaching this great Nation's young people. You might wonder why we need such a large support group. Well, think of it this way: Unlike most employees, we have tons of bosses. Besides the usual suspects, (principals, superintendents and the Board of Ed.), we have parents to answer to also. And every year there is a new batch of parents to contend with. That adds up to thousands of bosses! We need to be protected. We deserve tenure.
Reason #3: Follow the money.
School budgets are an issue every year. The local Board of Education is always going to try to find ways to cut the deficit. Retirees are the fast track way to cut expenses. But what if there were no tenure. How many high paid veteran teachers would be axed so that new, young and much lower paid teachers could replace them? We are probably the only major profession where youth is for some reason regarded as superior to experience. There are lots of people, including educational leadership, who think that we older teachers are out of touch with the kids of today. I think that's a load of nonsense! Experience in teaching is valuable. Teachers need to be protected. We deserve tenure.
Reason #4: Tenure does not guarantee us a job forever.
The only thing tenure assures us of is the right to due process. Imagine the position we are in. Kids don't always want to work for us, their parents complain that we dish out unfair treatment, (especially to their child), and administrators need a scapegoat to take the pressure off their own necks. So who do you think gets the blame? If there were no such thing as tenure, a teacher's job security would be at the whim of any irate parent or administrator with an agenda. That's why it is only right that we teachers are guaranteed due process under the law. We at least deserve that. We deserve tenure.
Reason #5: People who know nothing about the kids in our school district and who apparently know just as little about the capabilities of our students are telling us what to do!
Yep, I'm referring to the State Education Department. State Ed. telling me how and what to teach is like me telling LeBron James how to play basketball! We teachers are highly trained individuals. We are prepared in our areas of expertise and we know our kids! The very concept of handing teachers modules to guide our curriculums is an insult to our profession. We know what we are doing! And each of us has a unique and creative way to reach kids. Let us teach! We are the ones who deal with and address their academic needs on a daily basis. Taking orders from someone who doesn't know what is best for them is a huge problem. And then if these kids don't measure up to state standards, they expect us to explain why! That's why we need to be protected. We deserve tenure.
Well, that's all I have room for today. I promise to submit the remaining five reasons why teacher tenure rights should be protected next week. In the meantime, I have a request for the reader. Try to contact a former teacher who had a huge, positive influence on your life. Hey, I know there are some teachers you didn't like. We all had those. But you know as well as I do that there were also many who cared about you, treated you special and who helped guide your lives in a positive way. Call them. Thank them. Trust me: It means a lot to us to hear from you.
Dr. Lee Kronert is the author of a very pro-teacher novel titled, 'Don't Blame the Messenger'.