The Teacher Perspective on Tenure Reform

Montclair High School teacher Brian Ford says the tenure bill is an attack on teachers.


The tenure bill (S-1455) sponsored by Democratic State Senator Theresa Ruiz (D-Essex) is the latest attack on teachers demonstrating New Jersey legislators’ bipartisan support of the corporate education agenda, according to an article published last week by NJSpotlight.

The article was written by Montclair High School teacher Brian Ford and Kathryn Strom, a former history teacher.

They write:

These anti-teacher reforms, couched in the language of equity and democracy, harm our nation’s kids living in poverty, kids of color, kids who speak English as a second language, and kids with disabilities (although often these categories are one and the same) by covering up the real sources of failure: widespread child poverty, institutionalized racism, inequitable access to quality education that reproduces societal inequality, and recently, a deliberate starving of public education monetarily. The mainstream coverage of the bill in New Jersey also shows that those who have a voice in this issue lack even a precursory understanding of what "tenure” means and does for K-12 teachers, so here is a short lesson. 

“Tenure” simply means that a teacher has the right to due process -- that’s it -- and teachers are not granted tenure automatically. After three years, during which their administrator must conductnine formal observations to determine whether the teacher is effective, the administrator signs off on the teacher’s tenure.

Once a teacher has been granted tenure, raises and seniority are not automatic, but based on performance. Any teacher, no matter how long they have served, can be denied their contractually prescribed raise from one year to the next. This is commonly called “withholding of increment.”

To read the rest of the article go here.

Note: The views here reflect solely the personal opinions of the authors and not those of any institutions with which they are affiliated.

Stuart Weissman June 26, 2012 at 04:23 PM
"This is commonly called “withholding of increment.” But is uncommonly practiced.
esther February 09, 2013 at 07:23 PM
With all due respect Mr. Weissman "withholding of increment" is done commonly-and teachers do have to improve their teaching. What proof do you have it is uncommonly practiced? When this happens it is confidential and not subject to public scrutiny. Got any facts to back your comment up?
I'd-Rather-Be-at-63 February 09, 2013 at 08:40 PM
Brian Ford and Kathryn Strom have made an excellent and well considered contribution here. It is Mr. Ford's second recently. Ford and Strom's arguments do not stand or fall on the "withholding of increment" consideration (though they do correctly describe its role), but go to the heart of education and teaching: teaching all, teaching fairly, and teaching professionally. They again take on standardized test score and student outcomes as valid measurements of teacher performance - and they are right. Hopefully the Montclair Board of Education and Superintendent MacCormack are reading and learning.


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