In reading the latest edition of Wednesday Journal, I was pained by the glib assertions of Jack Crowe, which pander to the readers' prejudices and ignorance [To pass referendum, reconsider tenure and merit pay, Viewpoints, Dec. 1]. His Viewpoints article does the public a grave disservice because it is filled with innuendo, ridicule and misinformation.
In his piece Crowe asserts the following: 1) District 97 school district can reduce spending by eliminating teacher tenure. 2) Teacher tenure guarantees lifetime employment. 3) "Because of tenure, lousy teachers keep their jobs." 4) "Every couple of years, representatives of the district and the teachers union go into a room. They play cards and then come out after a few hours to tell the world that the parties have agreed to a new contract."
Had Crowe done his homework instead of just shooting off the lip, he would have known:
First, that Illinois school boards have no power to eliminate teacher tenure. Teacher tenure is a product of state legislation and therefore not cancelable by District 97.
Second, teacher tenure does not guarantee lifetime employment, but rather guarantees a procedure by which a teacher can give evidence and listen to the charges against him. Evidence such as observation of poor teaching techniques, attempts to rectify the situation and continued ineffectiveness can be presented at the hearing and result in a dismissal for incompetence. It is simply not true that teacher tenure enables "lousy" teachers to keep their jobs.
There are other instances where tenured teachers can lose their positions, such as when the pupil population decreases, and in the judgment of the administrative staff there simply are not enough students to justify a teaching position. Also, when I entered the teaching profession I taught three years before being offered tenure. I understand that the three-year requirement has been increased to five years. Supervisors can learn a lot about a teacher's competence in three years and certainly in five.
Third, Crowe denigrates the public service of citizens who generously contribute their time, talents and energy to serve on school boards. I suggest that the gentleman speak to those who have served or are currently serving. Perhaps then he will be less sarcastic about, and have more empathy for, school board members.
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