Under Governor Rick Snyder, education has come into the spot- light as he vies to reform and make cuts to the public education system.
In 2011 Governor Rick Snyder signed tenure reform into law. A big part of this law was subtracting the “Last in, first out” policy, which basi- cally eliminates the use of seniority for teachers. This also means when teachers are being laid off from a district, seniority will no longer be the deciding factor on who stays and who goes, it says that those who show more effective teaching techniques will be the ones who stay on staff.
The new tenure laws enact a teacher evaluation method, which is used to determine the effectiveness of teachers. It is only after three years of effective ratings that a teacher can attain tenure. In addition, teachers that have tenure and receive poor ratings can lose their tenure and be dismissed from their position.
The reform also sets a lower standard for the grounds for dismissal, therefore making it easier to fire teachers for lesser offenses.It is projected that teachers will feel the full effects of the reforms by 2016. With 49% of teacher evaluations based on student achievement, The Lancer staff has taken a firm stance against the new tenure reforms.
In every classroom, teachers can find students with no motivation or drive to learn. There are also some kids that do not have the family sup- port to aid them in their studies. And sometimes in these cases, the students are unwilling to accept help from their educators and as a result attain low scores and grades. We believe that the dismissal of a teachers based on students that refuse to learn in unfair. Teachers cannot be blamed for students that do not want to learn. In addition, it cannot be a teacher’s sole responsibility to be every low achieving student’s motivator. With some teachers seeing upwards of 30 kids in a classroom with five or six classes a day, it is unfeasible to entertain the needs of every student that refuses to accept responsibility of their actions and take the reins of their own education.
However despite serious down- falls, the laws will make it easier to remove protection from teachers that abuse tenure. In a famous case, a teacher who was on school premises while intoxicated received a pass and protection from termination by the union under tenure. Now intoxication will no longer be tolerated, and it is grounds for immediate termination.
The Lancer staff does agree with this end of the deal. If students are are faced with consequences for intoxication on school grounds, teachers should face consequences as well. So if a student would receive immediate expulsion, then it seems only fair to us that the people charged with educating us should accept a similar consequence.
However this raises the question of “where does it end?” Where do administrators draw the line on what is a fireable offense or not? How do these new laws provide job security for educators? The answer is, they don’t.
This worries our staff as a whole. No one wants to see their favorite teacher leave their school, especially when its because of students that refuse to learn. Furthermore, we firmly believe that in order to attain an education, you have to want it. No one can force another individual to want to learn or better themselves, it has to be internal. Therefore, trying to force the responsibility of accountability of student’s grades and scores onto teachers is unfair.
Teachers are proponents of the law, not parents. We believe it is the responsibility of the student to take the initiative to improve their performance and not the responsibility of those who give them the tools to do so.