On tenure, school boards hard to figure

Raleigh News & ObserverMarch 21, 2014 

We’re not surprised that Johnston school leaders declined to adopt a resolution opposing the end of teacher tenure in North Carolina. A Republican legislature passed that law, and Johnston’s school board is made up largely of Republicans.

But were are surprised that so many school boards elsewhere are formally opposing the end of tenure and even suing to overturn the law. Surely they know this, but these boards are undercutting their principals, who will be harder pressed to rid their schools of bad teachers if the courts overturn the law.

In most companies, boards of directors align themselves with the managers they hire to run their companies. It seems logical then that school boards would align themselves with the principals they hire to run their schools.

But in Guilford County, the board of education is suing to overturn the recently passed law that ends teacher tenure in the Tar Heel State. And in Wake County, the school board has gone on record as being opposed to the law. We appreciate and understand the solidarity with teachers, the rank-and-file employees of a school system. But we wonder if any school board stopped to ask principals what they thought of suddenly having the freedom to save kids from bad teachers.

We understand that all new teachers work probationary periods in which their principal can fire them on a whim. But that’s no argument for denying principals the continued power to fire poorly performing teachers. Not all employees get better over time; over the years, we’ve known a few people who got out of the gate better than they finished.

For the sake of argument, let’s say that Walmart employees had tenure and that lawmakers passed a bill ending tenure for Walmart workers. Do you think for a minute that Walmart’s board of directors would sue to overturn that law or issue a statement opposing the law?

Of course it wouldn’t. Because Walmart’s board wants its managers to have the power to do what’s in the best interests of the store’s customers. We wonder why some school boards in North Carolina don’t want what’s best for their customers.


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