Finding 3 (continued II)
Nevertheless as noted in Figure 13, the surveyed teachers do not perceive that eliminating teacher tenure would be an effective way to improve teaching, though Gen Y teachers are slightly less sanguine. Focus group participants did not place a great deal of value on tenure, some saying they either did not know why they had it or how they could get it. Nevertheless, several expressed strong opinions about tenure as it is currently practiced. As a middle school teacher in Colorado stated, “I think if you’re not good at something, you shouldn’t be guaranteed to have a job in it. I think it makes the rest of us look bad. It’s nice to have support, and I think it would be important to have a series of legitimate complaints or issues over a period of time before you’re let go, but I don’t think tenure’s a good idea.” Another high school teacher from North Carolina talked about the attitude that some tenured teachers have: “I’ve got tenure; I can do whatever I want to. I can slack off, I can leave early, I cannot go to this meeting, I can do whatever I want to, and you can’t touch me.“
Note: These differences are not statistically significant.Focus group teachers saw tenure as a nuanced issue, however. One teacher from Wisconsin asserted that administrators can do more to work with ineffective teachers before firing them, saying, ―I‘ve seen pressure put on ineffective teachers, and I‘ve seen it work.‖ Other surveys have shown that many teachers are concerned about ineffective teachers staying on the job. In Public Agenda‘s 2006 survey of public school teachers, more than four in 10 gave their principals fair (30 percent) or poor (12 percent) ratings for making sure the ―worst teachers‖ don‘t stay at the school (Johnson, Arumi, & Ott, 2006).
Another teacher from Wisconsin had yet a different take:
[W]e all like to say well, if [teaching is] a profession, then like every other profession, if you don’t toe the line, you get fired. Well, in education it’s different, because if you get fired, there are—in high school—you have 120 plus kids who now don’t have a teacher for that subject, and it affects all of their lives and educations.… If you get fired in another job, they put up a job posting. Your desk is empty. When they get that new person, they put them in; life goes on. In schools, all these kids are stuck in limbo for the rest of the year. You’re not going to find a teacher just bam, hire them like that. It doesn’t work like that, you know?This set of findings suggests that teachers feel the impact of their colleagues on the quality and effectiveness of their own teaching, and Gen Y teachers, many of whom are still learning the best ways to be effective, especially desire to work with teachers from whom both they and their students can learn.