Teacher tenure
Submitted by admin on Mon, 2005-12-05 08:49.
I was very interested in your article. As a retired member of the faculty of the University of Toledo, and a former secondary science and math teacher in western Illinois, I am well aware of the situation described in your article. But programs do exist that address the problems identified in that article.
The Toledo Plan, jointly sponsored by the Toledo (Ohio) Public Schools and the Toledo Federation of Teachers has addressed this issue for over twenty years. That plan won several awards for its effectiveness. The following website contains a description of that program.
George B. Shirk
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Submitted by admin on Thu, 2005-12-15 15:28.
The American Association of University Professors estimates that there are 282,429 tenured faculty nationwide ("Trends in Faculty Status, 1975-2003," www.aaup.org/research/FacStatTrends.htm) but only "about 50 [tenured] professors fired each year" ("Taking Aim at Tenure," Houston Chronicle, Oct. 21, 1996). In other words, the odds of a tenured professor being fired in a given year are about 1 in 5,650. Since the odds of a golfer making a hole in one on any given round are 1 in 3,000 ("The odds on making a hole-in-one," Golf Digest, March 2000, www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_mOHFI/is_3_51/ai_59554906), it's almost twice as likely that Joe Duffer will shoot a hole in one as that a tenured professor will get the boot.
Submitted by admin on Wed, 2005-12-14 14:08.
Mr. Reeder:
The accountability/tenure problem are but a surface symbol along a much deeper fault line: the disconnect between the Cost of an Illinois education versus its Value.
While it is apparent that Costs per student are rising much more quickly than the nominal rate of inflation, what is coming to the for now is the low Value in the marketplace -- the international marketplace of the Twenty First Century. Without the protection of high tariff barriers this country is in competition in the production of goods, services and ideas for the world.
What do we know about the Value of our educational Output?
The following 2004 study was written by the President’s Advisory Commission on Science and Technology
“Sustaining the Nation’s Innovation Ecosystem”, available at.
It ranks the U.S. elementary and secondary math and science programs against the remainder of the civilized world, including Japan, South Korea, the people's Republic of China, Taiwan and India. Our supposed Advance Placement tests are at the bottom after declining through the grades. Proficiency in science declines as well throughout grade school and into high school.
The National Governors Association reported in 2005 that its colleges spend over $2 Billion per year in remediation of high school graduates.
There are other more recent studies.
The State Boards of Education -- controlled by Education specialists are themselves contributing to the problem. Testing is lax. "Grade level" performance is a Bell Curve gone wild.
Teachers themselves are underqualified and given step raises as well as classification raises as they march towards advanced education degrees instead of subject matter mastery.
And so much more.
pete speer
Indian Creek
Submitted by admin on Mon, 2005-12-12 12:47.
Dear Scott:
Good morning! I just wanted to take the time to tell you how much I enjoyed your series on the problems with our school systems. Being a Bush supporter, I personally think the no child left behind program is a good one.
I think parents should have the right to move their children to better schools. I also think we should change the way schools are funded, from property tax to some kind of state tax.
I can appreciate how frustrating it is that good or bad the teachers all get paid the same. I work as a mailman in the US Postal Service. Everyone there is paid on years of service. You can be a good employee or bad employee everyone gets paid the same.
It encourages laziness, everyone doesn't want to do any more than they have to, and many still complain even though we are paid well.
I am also very interested in state politics. Do you have a opinion one way or the other on the Governor race? I can't believe Steve Rausenberger got out and is backing Ron Gidwitz and that Joe Birkett is backing Judy Baar Topinka.
I personally am a Bill Brady fan. Do you have a opinion on him? I enjoyed your articles and I hope something can be done to straighten out this mess. Merry Christmas to you and yours.
Bernie Thiergart,
Submitted by admin on Mon, 2005-12-12 09:27.
Dear Sir,
I'm sorry for a late comment on your article concerning effects that educational personal have on our kids. This subject is very dear to my heart, as my son is, and I have tried in many ways, for 6 years, to get help everywhere, short of hiring an attorney to take my district to court. And, by the way, the State of Illinois Board of Education is on the same level as the schools, since I received no hopeful results by calling them into my school to stir up compliance in educating my son.
When I first asked my principal for help upon our arrival at this district, because I could see in very few weeks, that my son was not "on the same page" with the other students, I was practically ignored. This was 5th grade. In 6th grade, he was diagnosed with ADHD, which all of us know by now, is a learning difference. His needs were not addressed. If we got lucky enough to get a teacher that had a genuine "calling" to the profession, that person would see some of his deficiencies and allow him to do his work in a different way, and grade him on what he, himself could do. The grades were always poor, and his test performance was always terrible. I had to be at school constantly, begging for help, as my son would go to bed at night, slapping himself in the head, and asking "why am I so dumb?" Even after having a case study done in 8th grade, he was granted no help. Along the way, we would get teachers that cared less if a student needed help.(Tenured you know) The work in these classes had to be done, and before or after school extra attendance in that class did not mean that the teacher would approach you with assistance. By now I'm talking High School, and as the years have gone by, my son is ashamed to approach some faculty for help, he has NO self-esteem, he holds his head down so much that teachers bring it to my attention as if he's ignoring them, coaches are yelling his name on the fields of play to put his head up, but they don't understand that this boy's soul has been touched with such negativity, that he's misplaced it. To receive help he has to be the one to seek it out, even though those F's keep showing their ugly faces to him, but to the educators first. Why do they just hand them out without realizing what it must be like to sit in classrooms, day after day, week after week, year after year, and end up in the below average world. How can a kid live there and care about a future?
At any rate, my son is now a junior, and even though I know for a fact that he would have done better if his needs were met back in 5th grade, the school sees no responsibility in changing what my son could have been in his life. They don't see the change to negativity that I have seen consume his life. They're all too busy giving out punishments for non-com pliance with zero tolerance rules instead of teaching.
Karen McIntosh
Submitted by admin on Fri, 2005-12-09 17:16.
Hi Scott
I wondered if anyone in the press would have the koonies to take on issue of teacher's performance and my prayers have been answer. Your articles are masterful, and the research is superb. I was trained as a school social worker and my wife was a teacher. I served on the East Moline School Brd. for two years and can relate to everything you have written, and more. If the school system was a commercial enterprise it would have gone bankrupt a long time ago.
The sad thing is, it's not going to improve until those involved become willing to take hard and honest look at a crippled system. The community gripes but doesn't get involved, our board meetings seldom had people from the community in attendance unless it was for a specific situation. IEA and NEA profess that they have the best interest of the child at heart, yet they protect incompetent teachers like a lioness protects her cubs. Many administrators sit behind their desks all day except to eat, and take bathroom breaks. They don't want to know what's going on in their classrooms, because they are afraid(they might have to deal with a problem). We have to get away from this crazy notion that money will solve all the problems. If you look back on the increase dollars going to school and the lack of results, you soon realize this is a myth. We tend to educate each and every child like they were college material or bound and that simply isn't the case. We need to institute curriculums that fit children's abilities and desires. For instance we should be increasing vocational training opportunities and team up with industry in the process.
I'll stop now, other wise this may become a thesis! Keep up the good work, the children deserve it!!
Gary L. Barnett
Submitted by admin on Fri, 2005-12-09 14:11.
Dear Mr. Reeder,
Many have been following your articles on tenure. I am, as an administrator and teacher at heart, saddened by these articles. As with anything, the picture can definitely be painted either way. I was disheartened to see this was the route you chose to take. It amazes me that the very paper that prides themselves on "Master Teachers" can cut those very teachers to the quick.
I would like to invite you to come to our school. We are Cambridge Elementary School located in Cambridge, Illinois. We have seven Master Teachers who are currently teaching or retired from Cambridge School. We have recently been nominated for the National No Child Left Behind-Blue Ribbon Schools program. This year there are 16 schools in Illinois nominated. There are only six grade schools in Illinois nominated for this honor. Considering there are 876 districts in Illinois and over 3,900 schools in Illinois, we are honored by this nomination. Over the next two months, my staff and I will be working to apply for this award. The process is grueling and analyzing every ounce of data is a daunting task. Our staff is up to this challenge and, hopefully, we will be chosen. Regardless, what we do is for the kids and is all about the kids every single day. It has nothing to do with an "honor" or award.
We are what we are for so many reasons. The ROE called and said they would like to talk to us about how we do what we do. What makes us special? The reasons are unending. One major reason is our staff. The teachers and staff make this school what it is. Many of these teachers started out as first year teachers at Cambridge Elementary School and will retire from here. I am honored and thrilled for these kids that have these teachers touch their lives. My little girl is one of these lucky kids.
I truly feel an article needs to be written about us. This is truly front page news, worthy of the spot. There are 3900 other schools willing to open their doors and their hearts to show you how great schools operate.
Shelly R. Logston, Principal
Cambridge Elementary School
Submitted by admin on Fri, 2005-12-09 09:40.
Your teacher stories have been interesting and enlightening to say the least. Why not do a story on how poorly nurses (RN's & LPN's) are paid in the Quad Cities?
Betty Swinford
Submitted by admin on Fri, 2005-12-09 08:17.
want to thank you for your wonderful series on teacher tenure. I served on a school board for nine years. I began as an advocate for teachers and ended with a very different perspective.
1. Teachers always claim they are professionals, yet wave a contract if asked to participate in a committee that exceeds their contractual hours. Professionals do what it takes to get the job done!
2. Teachers are well compensated for what equates to part time employment. 180 days a year 7 to 71/2 hours per day.
3. In the professional world people are compensated based upon performance. Poor performers are not retained. Teachers are compensated regardless of performance.
Seems to me that with a little extra work, administrators could break down state test scores by teacher and a teacher whose students consistently under perform should meet the same consequences as their professional friends.
The costs of tenure are too great. Underachieving children become underachieving adults. Far too many will be unable to logically resolve a problem yet they may be making the decisions for the next generation.
I applaud your courageous documentation.
Claudia Robinson
Submitted by admin on Thu, 2005-12-08 14:22.
Dear Mr.. Reeder,
I am writing today about the series of articals being written on teacher tenure and overall education. Elementary education was my initial major when I enrooled at the nearby community college two years back. Since then I have taken a long break and will resume this summer. I will go back as an undeclared major for a few reasons.
Somehow, education has become a fickle business. A career that I dreamed of since I was a little girl, now scares me. Going to the topic, I feel that the clauses of teacher tenure are over written. It was desighned to protect teachers, but what about the students? On the same note, something needs to be done to protect teachers, but in a different way.
When I was sixteen years old, I has the privaledge of shadowing a 2nd grade teacher for a month. She had been teaching for twenty some odd years.
The more time I spent with her in the classroom, the more I became convinced that she needed to either retire, or be let go. She had clearly lost her passion. When any of the children became unruley, it seemed her tactic was to yell, or humilate them. One child was having a difficult time with his math assignment. He acted out his frustraiten by banging his head on his desk, throwing things, and calling himself stupid. I sat and waited for the teacher to address the situation. She didn't. After five minutes of this child going off, I got up and did something about it. I was sick at the thought of what happen. How could she let him go on like that? After I, myself spent some time with him, he finally got it, and did well the rest of the day with a 40 watt smile on his face. These students are the victims of teacher tenure. They have so much going on in their young lives today.
School should be the one place they feel safe and cared about. If a teacher is seriously lacking on a job, they shouldn't be protected. The children should. It's a little ironic. The teachers are being protected...from theirselves! From their faults and mistakes. What a concept. Meanwhile, it's the students that suffer and some of these kids today don't need anymore greif then what they get at home. How is this a good thing? How is this fair?
On the other level, teacher's do need protection. Just in a different way. One of my college instructors, an amazing gentleman, was the victim of today's messed up teens, to put it bluntly. He had spent his entire life being well educate, to educate well. He was accused of sexual misconduct.
Later he was found innocent of all charges when the young female accuser admitted that she lied. She lied to get out of something that was her responibility. This is a very serious accusation that is being thrown out there a lot. Teachers are at extreme risk. It's too easy for an angry student to seek revenge on an innocent and in line teacher. And what about the teachers who still have the passion and love for teaching and for their students. What are the boundries? Where are the lines drawn. The teacher that I shadowed as well as myself, was a huggy teacher. She hugged for rewards, and she hugged to heal hurt. It was appropriate in my view, but the little things can be blown way out of context. Where's the protection for them? A child with a horrible family life would sometimes stay after to help clean up the room and tell her heart breaking story. Some would look at that suspisously. Where's the protection. There are wonderful teachers who genuinely care about their students well being. About their hearts and spirits. I would be one of them! But those who care and who try to mend are the ones who are accused to be innapropriate. I think the rules and guidlines need to be re-examined. I think there should be servalance in every classroom to protect the teachers. And the students. This is just my opinion from my personal experiances.
Thankyou for your time,
Jamie L. Fox
Submitted by admin on Thu, 2005-12-08 14:17.
Dear Mr . Reader,
.... I work for the Moline Dist . as an aide. I can not tell you how many teachers I knwo even agree with you....especially on the No firing aspect. We all have worked with teachers who do not desreve their jobs. I have been in 3 buildings in 10 years.
One of the on going problems is see is no accountability. The teachers can pretty much do what they want....and some choose to do little....many are very good teachers,. who love theri job and take it serioulsy.
My husband and I own a small non union business. Let me tell you, it is very different in the real world..
Again, I think you did a excellent job.,I do know that our head union spokesperson, is submitting a letter to the dispatch.
YOu did a great job investigating and talking about something that nobody wants to talk about....OH those poor , underpaid teachers........BULL!!!!!!! the insurance package, retirement, pension .......many "retire" and than go to Iowa to work ( teach).
thanks.......I really enjoyed your article
Submitted by admin on Thu, 2005-12-08 14:15.
Thanks for your expose of public school teachers!!! A series like yours was needed 20 years ago! Think about addressing the issue of teacher pay in a future article. I have worked an John Deere for 29 years as a salaried dept coordinator and make a low 40s salary. I have a masters degree (irrelevant to my job) as well as a BA. I haven't seen a raise in a few years and a substantive raise (over 3%) for as long as I can remember. I am a good employee, have missed 4 days work in 29 years. Meanwhile, I have three friends who teach in RI all with similar education to mine, all with 3 months vacation, and all making 70+. Whats wrong with this picture?
Submitted by admin on Tue, 2005-12-06 17:44.
Thanks for taking on this issue. The inability of schools to deal with poor performing teachers is a national issue that must be addressed.
Submitted by admin on Tue, 2005-12-06 14:41.
My name is Bryan Leonard and I am the science department chair at Ottawa Township High School. In addition to teaching accelerated physics, accelerated chemistry, chemistry, and physical science I also evaluate all of the instructors in my department according to the contractual agreement between OTHSEA and the board of education, in accordance with state law. As for my credentials, I have degrees in chemistry, physics, biology, a MsEd in school administration and have been an adjunct professor at IVCC for the past eleven years. In addition, I ran for the Ottawa Elementary Board of Education this past April, am a former president of OTHSEA, and currently on the executive board of the Region 15 section of the Illinois Education Association. Therefore, I feel qualified to comment on your article.
Although there are some teachers out there milking the system we do not tolerate that in the OTHS system. I did read your disclaimer that it is not meant to reflect on the local districts but I am quite certain that local residents will think that we have a bunch of slackers that sit around and read the newspaper as you cited according to Cicero Superintendent Clyde Senters. I would not equilibrate an administrator from a suburban school to our local administration and educators. Each student is expected to perform at their maximum ability and challenged to go beyond. Any instructor that is not performing at those expectations is dealt with both formal and informal evaluations, exceeding the standards set forth by the Illinois legislature. I am friends with both Andy Baker from the elementary district and Christy Myers at the high school and agree that there are some instructors who shouldn't be in the educational system. However, knowing them both (and serving with Andy on the IEA Regional board) it appears that their quotes were taken out of context so that it appears that they are critical of the evaluation process. I would welcome a chance to write an editorial when more of your series is published and address the concerns raised on a local level.
Bryan Leonard
OTHS Science Department Chair
Response: In the last 10 years no tenured teachers in Ottawa Elementary School District and only one at Ottawa Township High School have received unsatisfactory job performance evaluations that resulted in remediation. In fact, 84 percent of Illinois School Districts have never rated a tenured teacher as unsatisfactory.
No one is arguing that the majority of teachers aren't dedicated professionals.
Some school districts may well not have anyone functioning below expectations. But in your note, you said there are some teachers who are "milking the system." The question that needs to be asked is: How do we best deal with those individuals?
----Scott Reeder
Submitted by admin on Tue, 2005-12-06 14:26.
I read your article in the Dispatch today and share your concern with the problem. I find it interesting that you would site Riverdale as one of the schools responsible. I am a 1997 graduate from Riverdale and felt that throughout my education there, the teachers were lethargic with their lessons and it's application. The demographic in Port Byron and the surrounding townships is changing as many young families are moving away to give their children a better chance. I think a further investigation into the school district would be very healthy for the area.
I did not realize the poor impact that my learning at Riverdale had on me until I reached college. I was fortunate to have an athletic scholarship help "grease the wheels" for college admission. I struggled at first in the classes as I relied on the foundation built from high school classes. For two years I fought to stay above the limit of probation. After my fourth semester, I took a dramatic step forward and continued with above-3.0 GPA's until my graduation. I was not doing anything different in my search for learning. The difference was in the lessons, the teaching and the professionalism presented by the faculty.
Riverdale is a comfortable community that consists of characters that do not like to rock the boat. The teachers need to be worried and they also need to be evaluated effectively. The faculty has a reputation in the community for complaining and running off the "eccentric" personalities. They have a huge responsibility in serving the country's future. I am discouraged at the finger pointing and the "no child left behind" business. I would like them to do what they can with what they have. I know personally, like Ms. Sample, that the Riverdale school system does not do what they could to develop the young minds they are responsible for.
David Bull
Submitted by admin on Mon, 2005-12-05 16:38.
I taught for 34 years, and I witnessed several teachers go involuntarily. Others simply disappeared from the scene with no reasons available. Each one resigned.
Technically they were not fired, I suppose, but they left. They will be lucky to get a job anywhere in public schools, if anyone checks their references by telephone.
Call it what you will, but I have never worked for a principal who could not eliminate a staff member whenever he or she wanted to.
This imaginary land where there are no firings simply does not exist in practical terms.
It would be only fair to let your readers know that. I am weary of being told that teachers have tenure and are immune from firing. I would like to know where such a fairy land exists!
Archie Manis
2001 Shadow Ridge Road
Harker Heights, TX 76548
Response: My first job out of graduate school 17 years ago was covering education for the Galveston Daily News. It is much easier to dismiss a bad teacher in Texas than in Illinois. Texas stopped issuing tenure to teachers as part of its education reforms during the 1980s. There are some job protections, of course. But it is much easier to dismiss a ineffective teacher there than in Illinois.
----Scott Reeder
Submitted by admin on Mon, 2005-12-05 13:13.
Hi Scott,
I just wanted you to know that I think your series is a good one. I know I haven't seen the entire work. Having spent many years in education and 8 on a school board, I hope you will touch upon a couple of things. First, while teachers may not be "fired" very often they may be "counseled" to resign. This probably happens more than one would think. Also having attended workshops on getting rid of tenured teachers, it is certainly possible but requires careful, diligent work on the part of the school administration. Very often this does not happen for many reasons. We need to do a better job of evaluating non-tenure teachers before they are given tenure, and certainly we need to do a more honest evaluation of our tenured teachers. The easy way not to rock the boat is to give everyone at least an acceptable evaluation. This is not fair to anyone-the students, the teachers, or the teacher receiving a less than accurate evaluation. I think mentoring new teachers and teachers having difficulties is very important. It might be costly in time and money but important for the success of the students these teachers contact.
Also, please don't portray all teachers as wanting to protect "bad" teachers. Most of our teachers are talented professionals who are offended by colleagues who are not providing the best possible educational opportunities for their students. Believe me they know who these colleagues are and do not respect their professional behavior.
Susan Collins
2520 2nd St.
Moline, IL 61265
Response: I couldn't agree with you more when you say that most teachers are talented, dedicated professionals. And yes, some teachers are "counseled out" of education. But that strategy is often dependent on the teacher either heeding the administrator's advice or being offered significant incentives such as money, health insurance or a positive job referal. Retired Stanford University education professor Edwin Bridges wrote an excellent book on the subject: Managing the Incompetent Teacher.
----Scott Reeder
Submitted by admin on Mon, 2005-12-05 13:01.
Mr. Beach;
Thank you and your paper for the very informative article on tenure and our schools. As a former school board member (and president), I have been saying for years that someone needs to look at this "benefit". I have worked for industry and now for a local hospital, and never have I seen a job that you were "guaranteed" after 3-5 years of service. I have seen many teachers do a wonderful job while others just bide their time. One faculty, in my local school, remarked to students in my daughter's class that she didn't care if they learned, she would still get paid. Can you believe that?! And I was president of the Board at that time and there were 2 other students in that class with parents on the Board. We brought it to the attention of Administration, but nothing could be done because of her satisfactory evaluations. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't have a job. The statistics that were quoted about the number of satisfactory evaluations are so true. I don't think I sat through a faculty review when any teacher was rated anything other than satisfactory.
So I applaud your paper and the journalist for this very eye-opening article. I certainly hope many people read it and have their eyes opened wide.
Michelle Blackmer, MSN, RNC
Submitted by admin on Mon, 2005-12-05 12:38.
Great work! It was very illuminating – to say the least.
Greg Blankenship
Illinois Policy Institute
Submitted by admin on Mon, 2005-12-05 11:06.
Name: Connie
Email: BUCOAL@aol.com
Question or Answer: question
Question: I read the story in Sunday's paper about "Teacher Tenure." I am looking forward to the rest of the series. After reading todays segment, I do have a question. With the research that was completed for the story, I was wondering if it found that districts gave recommendations to teachers that were fired or "paid off" to leave the district? I have heard in a few instances that districts have given recommendations for "tenured" teachers just to get them out of the district.
I contacted dozens of school districts across the state and got copies of "termination settlement agreements" under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. Almost all of them contain a provision that ensures that the employee will at least receive a neutral recommendation. On the final day of the series we'll take an in-depth look at these settlement agreements and problems that they create.
----Scott Reeder
Submitted by LMD on Mon, 2005-12-05 09:40.
Illinois needs to make changes that require school administrators to deal with lackluster teachers. Notice I said "require," not encourage. If they can't manage that, then I would abolish the tenure system. I fail to understand why teachers should need such a system in order to function and do a good job. Other worthy professions seem to hold up without a tenure system.
I am not anti-teacher. My mother was a teacher for many years in Illinois. She was one of the good ones (I know because I had her for sixth grade). She also was the last one to pretend there were no poor teachers. Much of her time was spent helping children catch up from the previous year with an indifferent teacher.
Submitted by admin on Mon, 2005-12-05 09:30.
I applaud your investigation. Fortunately, when I was young, many years ago, I had wonderful teachers. Our young people are the future of our nation. That's why it's so important to have excellent teachers.
Thank you for all your work. Barbara Chaney