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Tenure is an integral part of the most modern concept of American educational process, which is expressed through the specific attitude to professors and teachers. There is a phrase that is often used to express the expected attitude of students to their professor and it compares students with boats in a stormy ocean and their professor with a lighthouse in the dark. This lighthouse gives students the required light, guiding them through the stormy ocean of knowledge. Thus, the most basic concepts of tenure provide teachers with a wide range of various opportunities and perspectives that vary from higher earnings in comparison with other teachers to having confidence that their further life is supported because of permanent employment. However, a teacher or a professor must pass through all difficult and challenging phases of becoming eligible for all features of tenure such as a great number of publications and a successful collaboration with their colleagues. At the same time, tenure has many negative sides because it defends teachers even if they demonstrate inappropriate behavior in their educational organizations. The most important fact is that the teacher, who has done something that can lead to their firing, will still be supported by teachers’ organization financially and will be provided with everything possible to the end of their life. These negative sides of tenure have prompted many people to support the idea of changing the basic principles of this notion. As a result, although tenure provides a great number of features to teachers and professors, it must control their activities more thoroughly.
Background of Tenure
First, one should understand what tenure is and how it is applied in the modern concepts of education in the United States. Thus, tenure means that a teacher, who has already finished their probationary period (nearly 2-3 years), has received the status of a full-time employee in their educational establishment. As a result, they cannot be ever disciplined or fired without due process and cause (Baratz-Snowden 5). Therefore, tenure is an integral part of educational process of the USA that provides a teacher with lifetime job.
Furthermore, surveys show that some part of society understands the term of tenure as a lifetime sinecure, although the number of those who think the opposite is almost the same. For example, according to a survey of Zogby, which asked whether society supported or rejected the concepts of tenure, 43% of people support it, 46% were against it, and 10% were not sure (Baratz-Snowden 5). Nevertheless, 84% of New York’s citizens claimed that they would like to replace tenure with a special system that would will provide teachers with a unique opportunity to complete a fair hearing until school council could fire them (Baratz-Snowden 5). Nearly 99% of respondents stated teachers should know all counterarguments against them, 90% of respondents said that teachers should be able to defend themselves when they were about to be fired (Baratz-Snowden 5). Furthermore, 66% claimed that an internal inquiry should make the final decision whether allegations were false or not (Baratz-Snowden 5). Hence, the entire teaching community of the United States supports the claim of the need for the application of the major concepts of tenure but in a slightly changed version.
Features Provided by Tenure
The most significant feature of tenure is the stability of employment and good earnings. For example, the organizations of teachers help them when they encounter various issues and problems that might lead them directly to the loss of work (Top Education Degrees). Consequently, this union of teachers will defend a professor or a teacher when an educational organization wants to fire them (Top Education Degrees). Some schools pay higher salaries to their teachers with all rights of tenure as compared to those who do not have such rights (Top Education Degrees). Some teachers have their students completely satisfied with the programs covered in classes that are conducted by the teachers with developed skills (Top Education Degrees). Thus, the rights and privileges that are given to the teachers with tenure status include higher salaries and a stable employment.
While tenure does not guarantee a permanent employment, this privilege is considered in the case of competition or the reduction of working places because of financial circumstances. For example, teachers, who do not have a working experience in a specific area, will never receive a good position if they compete with certified or more highly qualified teachers (American Association of University Professors). Nevertheless, the concepts of tenure say that a teacher is not able to apply their own policy to the class, and the content that a teacher gives to their students should comply with their responsibilities and it should be relevant (American Association of University Professors). Consequently, tenure defends the position of a teacher only if they correctly follow the required policies and practices of a particular school and if they provide their students with appropriate knowledge and skills.
Positive Sides of Tenure
One of the most successful applications of tenure is its use in the schools of high quality. For example, if a university of high quality hires 3-4 new professors-assistants, they will have to compete for tenure for 6 years (American Association of University Professors). As a result, these people should understand the complete severity of the laws of tenure and how it is hard to work within such conditions. Although these professors have already proven their proficiency, they will have to be distinguished in the case of a difficult situation (American Association of University Professors). Then, these individuals will have to work on various journal articles, external reviewers, or AP review articles by thoroughly planning and developing these works (American Association of University Professors). Moreover, the following step of tenure requirements says that these scientists must post a publication and an article. The further number of heir publications should be determined by the specialization of their author and all of them should be written by the same author (American Association of University Professors). Moreover, such a practice of sole writing is considered by the public as a good chance for assistants to become independent. Nevertheless, even if there are two authors or more, all of them should equally work on the scholarly paper to avoid the situation when one person has completed 20% of the paper, while the other one – 80%. Thus, the schools that provide their students with the education of high quality usually use the methods of tenure in accordance with their professors.
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Another important factor, which is considered by all educational organizations at the moment of the application of teachers, is collaboration. For instance, some schools even prohibit internal friction, which proves the high importance of the feeling of union in a team (American Association of University Professors). Moreover, most educational organizations appreciate the workers who are able to become real and powerful leaders. Although, working with people with the same AP level can be quite competitive and it can create additional challenge and pressure, it is rather useful since it accelerates the processes of acquiring results (American Association of University Professors). Hence, collaboration is one of the most important contributing factors that are considered by employers during the process of application of a new worker to an educational organization.
Negative Sides of Tenure
Several important facts that are expressed or broadcasted for the wide masses of people that identify inappropriate behaviors of teachers. For example, numerous cases of the violent attitude of teachers towards their students have been shown in many TV shows. As a result, these teachers are fired immediately, while society starts thinking about educational problems while watching such television programs. Thus, tenure makes the final decision of the commission that reviews such cases rather complicated and ambiguous. American Association of University Professors has become responsible for the development of the basic standards of higher education in order to serve the commonwealth since 1915 (American Association of University Professors). The association’s statement of 1940 was approved in 250 higher educational and scholar organizations (American Association of University Professors). One of the most important missions of teachers in education is to bring benefits to their students, so teachers’ inappropriate behavior cannot be tolerated even if they have tenure.
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However, represented facts are quite ambivalent, and it is not easy to estimate the risks created by the tenure system for people correctly. Moreover, the special system of the tracking of tenure develops the feeling of high risk in society, so it should be alleviated instead of being promoted (American Association of University Professors). Furthermore, a situation might become even more complicated when assistants with approximately the same achievements leave their educational institution, which will necessarily cause the loss of talents (American Association of University Professors). Therefore, 6 years are required for the understanding of the candidates for tenure and for finding the most appropriate person for this position.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of examples, showing how school teachers abuse the power of tenure that does not allow them being fired. For example, a teacher of elementary school, Mark Berndt, was charged for 23 actions of lewd conduct (Barrett). Nevertheless, the school, where he taught children and expressed his lewd behavior, had to search for a sufficient amount of evidences in order to prove this allegation only because this man had tenure and he was able to sue the school. Moreover, the teacher received the compensation in the amount of $40,000 because he had to wait for a few years to receive the final decision of the commission on his case (Barrett). Thus, this fact confused society since people were not able to comprehend the reasons that had made the school pay to Benedict such a great sum of money after all his actions. Moreover, this teacher was provided with a lifetime health insurance and $3,891.17 per a month, which was his pension paid as pretax benefits (Barrett). Furthermore, a rough estimation can easily state that Benedict will receive $1 million if he lives long enough (Barrett). Notwithstanding, more money should be paid to Mark Benedict, if he continues a lawsuit with the support of tenure (Barrett). As one can see, the person, who has demonstrated a negative example of social behavior to the youngest generation, will be supported by the government because he has tenure.
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Although it seems that the problem has already been solved, there are no doubts that everything should be rethought and this issue cannot be solved immediately. For example, many people say that the government protects old professors, although there are plenty of young ones who demonstrate more excellent skills than the older generation of teachers. Nevertheless, the newest bill in Missouri will help the community of the state get rid of the rights, suggested to teachers by the concept of tenure, and it will be applied to all new teachers starting from 2018 (Flaherty). For instance, a representative of the Missouri Republicans claimed in one of his speeches that professors or simple teachers do not need to have tenure if they act appropriately by teaching their students and demonstrating their best abilities (Flaherty). There also is a long list of unanswered suggestions such as, if a professor is excellent, they do not have to worry about their future career, so tenure will not be needed in this situation (Flaherty). Moreover, the claims, such as whether tenure makes a professor lazier or not and what people think about their tenure, create additional discussion of this problem (Flaherty). Thus, all statements represented above support the claim that the postulates of tenure give professors an opportunity to relax and not to care about their work properly. Hence, the new bill will help keep completion among all professors across the country. However, in the nearest future, this can become a challenge for old professors who have already lost their skills and proficiency because they have tenure that keeps them employed and financially covered.
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A new law is offered in California, and it will change the common viewpoint regarding tenure significantly. Although this law will legalize the firing of incompetent teachers in educational organizations, it will provide these teachers with a year of support and training (The Times Editorial Board). While teachers will be able to acquire tenure right already after 18 months of trainings as full-time workers, school headmasters will be able to extend this period to 3-4 years, thus giving incompetent teachers an opportunity to improve their skills (The Times Editorial Board). Hence, the new California law will change the traditional attitude to tenure.
However, there is an opinion that new laws regarding tenure should not be applied now because there are more important problems to solve. For example, discussing tenure already puts strain on many teachers, burdening them with unnecessary problems and distracting society from necessary and more pressing reforms (Bruni). Nevertheless, children should be educated by teachers who possess a high level of proficiency because education is one of the most important processes for the humanity (Bruni). Hence, although some people reject the necessity of tenure reform, it should be launched in the nearest future.
Tenure is a term of the modern education, but its roots go approximately to the beginning of the 20th century. This complicated concept includes various features that have negative and positive impacts on the lives of teachers and professors. Tenure offers a wide range of opportunities for those educators who have shown their excellent skills and knowledge for at least 4 years. The major concepts of tenure provide these teachers and professors with constant employment until the end of their lives and higher salaries in comparison to their colleagues. Nevertheless, these teachers and professors must post a great number of scholarly publications, such as articles and reviews, which will reflect their high level of proficiency. They must also to be able to collaborate with their coworkers successfully. This contributes to the increase of overall quality of education and competition for a teacher’s or a professor’s position. At the same time, tenure helps teachers and professors financially even if they have been accused of any offence. As a result, a great number of people would like to change their point of view at this concept. Finally, even though tenure broadens the horizons for professors and teachers, it must be adjusted to control their activities more effectively.