A Real Life Case for . . . Tenure

Revelations continue to surface regarding Pelican Educational Foundation since its charter contract was revoked by the Board of Elementary & Secondary Education (BESE), and governance of Abramson Science & Technology Charter School in New Orleans was turned over to the Recovery School District (RSD). Kenilworth Charter in Baton Rouge also operates under a charter with Pelican.

Turkish connections to Pelican and other charter consortiums associated with it throughout the United States, along with the employ of Turkish administrators and teachers, have led to numerous questions regarding the operations of these schools.

One such question posed by New Orleans parent Karran Harper-Royal particularly caught my attention. Karran has worked for over 10 years through the Pyramid Community Parent Resource Center for parents of students with disabilities. She is also a founding member of a rapidly growing and hugely influential parent advocacy group called Parents Across America headquartered in New York.

Karran wondered why, in light of evidence of alleged eggregious infractions by the school, so many parents and students showed up at the BESE special called meeting in Baton Rouge recently to voice their support for their school and its chartering organization. This link was found that addresses that and many other questions surrounding the backers of not only this chartering organization, but many others with similar modus operandi. Check it out before you continue.

Being a teacher, my question is why or how an experienced, state certified teacher, if there were any serving in this school, would remain in the employ of a school under the conditions that reportedly existed at Abramson. The following excerpt from the pages cited above, along with my commentary that follows, not only partially answered that question, but also added to my list of reasons why the much-maligned tenure provision offered teachers in Louisiana public schools serves not only to protect teachers, but to provide a safe and secure learning environment for their students.

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9) Unhirables
These are teachers and subordinate administrators who absolutely could not be hired in any other network or normal school, either because of incompetence, or lack of psychological fitness to teach, or because of some past infraction that would prevent their hiring in a normal school. They support the school administration unconditionally, remain silent regarding any questionable practices of the administration, and in return are allowed to retain their positions. Parents at Gulen charter schools are often baffled at the unresponsiveness of the administration when they complain about these teachers. They do not understand that the administration carefully cultivates such teachers as part of their support network.

(10) Desperately needing job security
These are employees who for various reasons place a very high premium on job security, and are willing to keep silent and tolerate the working conditions in Gulen charter schools in exchange for it. They are not necessarily unhirables; some may even be excellent teachers. Their great need for job security may stem from understandable factors such as, for example, severe financial pressures, illness in the family or other personal stressors. The current dismal job market for teachers is another contributing factor. These employees will never speak up about the administration as they know that remaining silent is the only way to retain their positions.

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On the surface, this may not seem to support/justify tenure, but read between the lines and put yourself in the place of any employee whose job has no such due process provision in place, a provision that also creates a certain amount of "psychological job security."

Now consider the very "fragile" position that teachers are inherently placed in under the microscope of literally hundreds of parents every school year who understandably "want the best for their children." The reality is that teachers can be perceived as easy targets when anything goes wrong that the parent perceives as injurious or unfair to his/her child - offenses as simple as poor grades, consequences for unacceptable behavior, or failure to qualify in an extracurricular activity such as cheerleader, team sports or even academic competitions.

Tenure requires employers/administrators to know their teachers intimately through observation and accountability, gives them the responsibility of providing appropriate professional development as needed, and through documentation of these and other activities, provides evidence for teacher, administrator and a parent so that the teacher can be confident she/he will receive the appropriate support in working with the parent to resolve problems and provide for an appropriate and quality educational experience for all children. When teachers feel they can question or report questionable activity or shortcomings, schools are most likely to provide safe and secure refuges for the children who attend them. When job security is an issue, it is human nature to withdraw or to ignore even glaring offenses.

Just as tenure serves to protect children, it also provides a measure of protection from demotion or loss of position for teachers if they complain about or report questionable activities of any nature that might arise in an educational setting.

1 comment:

  1. I think there are pros and cons for tenure. However, I think that teachers deserve tenure for protection since they are under so much scrutiny.


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