Reimagining Education

Indiana Tenure Reform Takes Root

By Peter Franzen, Director of Development

A recent story from our neighbors in Indiana highlights how changes to teacher tenure is shedding new light on the future of the profession.

New teachers entering the profession are recognizing that their future depends on how well they are able to perform in the classroom, not how long they can stay on the job.  When you think about it, what could be less motivating than a “set in stone” pay structure that involves only your years on the job and your level of education?

Rewarding great teachers is one of CEAM’s policy principles because we believe that attracting and retaining effective teachers is one big, important step forward in reforming education.

Indiana is among the nation’s leaders in education reform.  Not only do their reforms to tenure give principals more say in who is on staff, it provides teacher with a much higher level of communication with superiors through regular classroom observation and coaching.

Tenure is a well-intentioned policy whose time has come and gone.  It has clogged our education system in ways that no one could have imagined.  The reality is that retaining highly effective teachers is in everyone’s best interest.  The notion that a principal will fire an effective teacher for speaking against school policies is no different than any boss firing an effective employee for speaking up…it doesn’t make a lot of sense.    That doesn’t mean it can’t happen, but the point is that a principal’s salary, position and bonuses are all tied to the ability of his or her school to educate children.  The motivation is to build the best possible, most effective team.

Showing up for work consistently and improving yourself through education are two important traits in any employee in any profession, but those two elements alone cannot serve as the primary guides for salary and security.  Of course highly motivated, talented, young teachers leave the field.  They are not rewarded for what they bring to the table in teaching at the same time that many other private sector employers seek them out and court them to come to work.

Most Americans already know what it means to be in danger of being fired for not performing well on the job.  Either do your job well or find another career or company.  That’s just how it is.  Among the most important jobs in America is teaching children and yet, under tenure, it breeds mediocrity, not excellence.

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