SIMONE VIRZI — News Writer
In addition to deciding how to spend taxpayers’ money for the upcoming fiscal year, effective July 1, Gov. Dannel Malloy has been planning to reform tenure in Connecticut public schools.
“It’s been said by some that I won’t take on the issue because it will damage my relationship with teachers … This is the year to reform teacher tenure. So let’s get it done,” Malloy said to Christopher Keating of the Hartford Courant.
“Right now, if you’re a teacher and you have a tenure, your performance in the classroom has to be rated ‘incompetent’ before a dismissal process can even begin. Even then—even if you’re rated ‘incompetent’—it can take more than a year to dismiss you,” Malloy said, according to the New Haven Register. “And to earn that tenure—that job security—in today’s system basically the only thing you have to do is show up for four years. Do that, and tenure is yours.”
Malloy said tenure will be earned and retained through “effective teaching” rather than counting years of service, as he said to Jordan Fenster of the New Haven Register.
“In this new system, tenure will be a privilege, not a right,” Malloy said.
The Register reported that according to state Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor, the new system would award tenure to a teacher within a range of three to five years, and would be based not on time period, but on “the teacher’s skill.” Once tenure is awarded, it could be removed if a teacher does not meet performance standards.
English professor Patrick McBrine said tenure is beneficial
for professors, explaining it is not easy for a professor to get; tenure is an extensive process.
Every university “has its own expectations,” and Southern’s focus is on “teaching excellence.”
Tenure at Southern is based on a point system, in which a professor obtains 10 points for teaching, five for publishing and four for university work, whether it involves being part of a committee or being a student advisor.
Tenure can be seen as job security but it is not just handed to a professor; “they earn it.” Additionally, McBrine said they have to show they are “committed to students and the university.”
However, with other schools like Yale or Harvard, McBrine said publication comes first, not teaching.
A professor at Harvard “can have lots of publications, but can be a terrible person,” McBrine said.
Earth Science major and super senior Kal Nagy said every teacher has his or her own way of teaching and should not be penalized for that. However, he said he is not against the idea.
“I guess I see the point in [the tenure reform],” he said, “to have high standards.”
Sophomore cultural anthropology major Seth Columbia said he does not agree with tenure, comparing it to a teacher union.
“[Tenure is] protecting the rights of the teacher [but that doesn’t] make them the best,” he said, adding teachers need to have passion because students “need a good mentor.”
“Tenure doesn’t really serve the student body,” Columbia said, “If the teacher isn’t doing their job, why should they keep it? If [teachers] can’t teach, they should find another job.”
Columbia said past experiences have influenced his mindset.
“I’ve had teachers that suck,” he said. “There’s nothing the school can do after they are in tenure.”
Columbia said what should be in place is something opposite of tenure, so that teachers are not treated in a “super-equal” manner. He said if one teacher is more dedicated and “putting in more work,” the teacher should get paid more money. Even though this concept may be seen as “favoritism,” in the long run, it could be more effective.
Ultimately, Columbia said he would like to see Malloy eliminate the tenure because the ability of a teacher impacts their students.
“Think about the kids,” he said, “we’re the future.”