If you need a sign of the times which demonstrates that the Democrats are desperately trying to rally their hard core base in the closing days before the election, you need look no further than this incredible essay for CNN by Donkey Party strategist Donna Brazile. Titled, Don’t Abolish Teacher Tenure, Brazile launches into her lecture to all of you ugly Americans in a way which claims to prove that Americans really love the tenure system, and it’s just a few evil rich people who oppose it. She is, of course, responding to that Time magazine cover we discussed earlier this week.
These attacks on public education, educators and neighborhood schools have unfortunately become the norm. It’s gone too far. Enough is enough.
Due process policies such as tenure are put in place to protect good teachers from being fired without cause. They aren’t there to protect “bad” teachers. In fact, research from economist Jesse Rothstein suggests removing tenure might worsen educational outcomes because it would eliminate one of the major attractions to the profession. And since one of the biggest challenges in public education these days is teacher retention and recruitment, abolishing tenure could be incredibly harmful.
That’s a bold stance to take in defense of such a controversial (to be charitable) practice, but I pressed on, ready to hear her defense. But it may come as no surprise to most of you that the defense never materialized. The piece goes on for fourteen more mind numbing paragraphs and the word “tenure” never appears again. Instead, Brazile offers up a series of polls and generalities about how wonderful most parents think teachers are.
DPE conducted a poll with Harstad Strategic Research, a Colorado-based firm that worked on President Barack Obama’s historic 2008 election and 2012 re-election. The poll shows voters support public education in resoundingly large numbers. Roughly two thirds of Americans agree with traditionally Democratic positions when it comes to education…
Overall, 82% of voters able to rate their local teachers believe them to be excellent, very good or good. So, even though we’ve seen lawsuits from California to New York scapegoating “bad teachers,” the divisive views espoused by Campbell Brown and Michelle Rhee simply aren’t rooted in public opinion.
So while we started out on this journey allegedly talking about why tenure should not be abolished and how this is a winning issue for Democrats, we immediately swerved off to a poll showing that parents largely think that their children’s teachers are pretty nice people who take on the important job of educating our young people,
In the words of so many of the young people in question, allow me to say… Duh.
But since the author refused to address the core question which she herself brought up, allow me to take up the task. There actually has been recent polling done on the question of teacher tenure. It was conducted this summer by the Harvard Program on Education Policy, and the results will seem rather counterintuitive to those falling in line with Donna Brizile’s claims. People are opposed to teacher tenure by a two to one margin.
The public seems to agree that something needs to be done, and that is where tenure laws come in. Survey respondents favor ending tenure by a 2-to-1 ratio. By about the same ratio, the public also thinks that if tenure is awarded, it should be based in part on how well the teacher’s students perform in the classroom. Only 9% of the public agrees with current practice in most states, the policy of granting teachers tenure without taking student performance into account.
If you want Democrats to hit the trail this weekend, loudly and proudly defending the tenure system, please do. Really. Please.
This is just a common sense question. Even if we weren’t peppered with far too many stories about rubber rooms and pedophiles who remain on the taxpayer payroll for years on end, tenure would make essentially no sense. Brazile refers to tenure as a “due process policy” in the brief moment when she mentions it at all, but that description is simply nonsense. Every worker has the same due process under our laws. Teachers receive far more than that in a fashion which is essentially unique in the United States and it is abused mercilessly to the detriment of the parents, the schools and the children. And, to parrot Brazile’s own words, it’s gone too far. Enough is enough.