CALDER has a nice conversation on the effects of eliminating tenure in the wake of the Vergara. Good points are made, with an emphasis on shedding light rather than the all-too-common political posturing. A few of my favorite quotes:
Virtually every business in the country effectively has a tenure system for its employees. It is not in any business’s interest to arbitrarily or capriciously fire employees… Tenure in education has unfortunately gone beyond any sense of reasonable balance between employee security and the interests of children. …[eliminating tenure] is unlikely to have a huge impact on the overall labor market for teachers. … No matter what the replacement for the current system looks like, it will not involve large numbers of fired teachers or, put another way, it will not involve very large changes in the risk to any individual.
While everybody finds it convenient to blame either the rules, the unions, or the contracts for any problems, district administrations and school boards are often complicit in not actively making personnel decisions.
I see teacher perceptions as being another key variable in how these policies play out, because teachers will respond to what they perceive is a threat—or not—of unfairly losing their job….even a small rise in performance-based dismissals could have unforeseen chilling effects on the labor force if the messaging about it goes unchecked.
Although weak tenuring and dismissal processes in some states, including most notably California, should indeed be improved, it is hard to make the case that removing tenure and other job protections is the route to a more productive teaching force. If tenure were eliminated and job protections in the form of due process rights were substantially weakened, teaching would become a much riskier career choice that, at current salary levels, would be far less attractive to potentially strong teachers.
Instead, the path to a more productive teaching force would combine higher salaries and greater respect for teachers, along with good human resource policies. Higher salaries and treating teachers as professionals would enable the sector to compete on a more level playing field with other sectors, such as law and business, for the best and the brightest college graduates.