Welcome to the Profit of Education website. Continuing the conversation begun in the book Profit of Education, we discuss the latest economic evidence on education reform.

The economics of tenure

Discussions of teacher tenure largely omit the first point any economist would make. Tenure is valuable to teachers. Tenure may or may not be a good idea. (I think it’s a very good idea, albeit a healthy dose of reform is needed in the way it’s applied.) Whether tenure is a good idea or nor, tenure is an important part of teachers’ overall compensation package. Wouldn’t you value a guarantee that you can’t be fired?

North Carolina just eliminated tenure. (Here’s the NPR story.) North Carolina also cut out extra pay for teachers with a master’s. I don’t want to push too hard on tightly-linked cause and effect, but here’s the last line of the NPR story about North Carolina.

Freshman enrollment in the state universities’ education schools is down between 20 and 40 percent.

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3 Responses to The economics of tenure

  1. Nordy says:

    It’s probably worth noting that “career status” in North Carolina is much different than “tenure” as you define it. Career status is/was not “a guarantee that you can’t be fired.” It was a guarantee of a right to have a hearing if you are fired.

  2. Arthur McKee says:

    Dick,
    We’ve found that the enrollment figures in ed schools generally lag behind several years.
    Given that there has been a modest but palpable decline in the number of teachers across the country, and that teachers were more willing to ride out the recession in the classroom (rather than leave in their normal numbers) — maybe the enrollment declines have to do more with the perceived difficulty of landing a job recently than anything else.
    Obviously, your basic point is right, and it would be interesting to see if current enrollment figures, when the economy is beginning to pick up, lag behind pre-recession numbers in North Carolina (particularly compared with neighboring states — perhaps this is something of a natural experiment?)

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