What is the contextual significance of tenure in education?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The contextual significance of tenure in K-12 education has to do with the role of tenure in improving or harming the quality of teaching in our schools.  In recent times, tenure has become a major issue in the debates over education.  Some people argue that tenure hurts education while others hold that tenure is beneficial.

Many people, conservatives in particular, believe that teacher tenure is a major problem.  They believe that it is too hard to fire bad teachers once they have tenure.  They argue that teachers who have tenure can become lazy and/or complacent.  Once teachers have put in three years on the job (typically), it is very difficult to get rid of them and so they have no incentive to make sure that they are continuing to improve their teaching techniques.

By contrast, many teachers argue that tenure is necessary for good education.  They say that tenure is the only thing that protects teachers from being fired for no reason other than the fact that a given principal does not like them.  They say that teachers with tenure are free to experiment with new techniques.  If they did not have tenure, they would all be likely to stick to the same lesson plans for fear of being fired because they are different.  They say that tenure allows teachers to take strong stands for quality education without fear of being fired for their ideas.

The issue of tenure for teachers is part of a major debate over education that is going on today.  This is the contextual significance of tenure.

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