Local News

Wake school board grapples with end of teacher tenure

Posted January 7, 2014
Updated January 8, 2014

— Legislation approved last year that eliminates tenure for public school teachers in North Carolina is not popular around the table at the Wake County Board of Education.

The provision is meant to hold educators accountable. But school board members worry it will drive good teachers away.

“I think this can do irreparable harm,” Vice Chairman Thomas Benton said during Tuesday’s board meeting, where members began the process of identifying the top 25 percent of teachers in the county.

Those employees will be offered a four-year contract with a salary increase. But they will lose tenure – called “career status” – if they sign on to get it.

"We have a lot more than 25 percent of teachers worthy of recognition,” Board member Jim Martin said.

Instead of achieving career status after four years, teachers would be considered "non-probationary," a protected status. To maintain that status, teachers must submit to yearly observation evaluations. If a teacher receives two years in a row of negative evaluations, he or she would become probationary and could be fired at will.

“There is no way to measure that except for some very subjective evaluations,” Benton said.

The North Carolina Association of Educators and six teachers have filed a lawsuit to repeal the provision. Opponents are concerned it will hurt teacher retention and recruitment in the state.

“I am proud to be a public school teacher,” said Cathy King, who has been in the classroom for 20 years. “How will teachers be informed about what they are giving up if they accept the bonus, and what will it mean for their careers in the future?”

Under the law, teacher tenure will be eliminated statewide by 2018. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, who initially crafted the tenure elimination proposal, said in a statement Tuesday that the measure is needed.

"Increasing accountability in the classroom may be an uncomfortable chore for some school administrators, but it's the right thing to do for our students,” he said.

At one point during Tuesday’s meeting, some school board members considered asking the General Assembly to postpone the law. But a vote was not taken on that.


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  • Plenty Coups Jan 9, 2014

    UNC81-"A 70% coinsurance is the standard "Bronze" plan under the ACA. That's decent insurance, although it may not be the high-end plans the state has paid for in the past."

    Decent? It's certainly not a silver or gold plan. It'd perhaps be OK if teachers had salaries similar to other professions that require the same education so that they could afford the 30% co-pays and high deductibles. This General Assembly has been disastrous for our state education system and teachers.

  • ILoveDowntownRaleigh Jan 8, 2014

    I urge the Wake school board to grow some spine and aggressively fight the current campaign of attack by Republican county and state legislators.

    There is ample evidence of their coordinated attack on our public education system. So stop being coy in front of the cameras. Your job is to explain and bring public attention to their attacks on education.

  • tracmister Jan 8, 2014

    Tenure is actually needed. If you have a situation where on 17 teachers are fired, but magically 6.9% of the workforce is forced to resign, what is the real problem? That would be administrators who allow teachers to resign to avoid the threat of a lawsuit by a lawyer, such as the one that wanted to get rid of tenure, Phi. Now, there is no teacher who will stand up to a principal. This means the young ones leave, the old ones retire early and a few stay with large teacher shortages.

  • tracmister Jan 8, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Good try! The only teachers that make over 60K are those with thirty years in, have a Master's Degree and National Board Certification. If you would have been a teacher you would have know that. You also would have know that those types of teachers are almost non existent. Finally, You also would have realized that many teachers were forced to resign under tenure. Maybe tenure's not the problem, maybe weak leaders are.

  • Plenty Coups Jan 8, 2014

    "A good teacher does not need tenure to have a job"

    ...but they do need pay they can live on. You know, the whole reward the "good teachers" platform that the republicans apparently didn't really mean when they were running for office. All they've done for the last 3 years is attack the teachers while keeping pay low.

  • catawbacoops Jan 8, 2014

    Having been a public school teacher myself, I'm kinda jaded about this. Tenure is a bad bad thing. I saw tenured teachers with dontgiveacare attitudes, making $60K a year riding out their time until they retire. I say remove them, and redistribute those funds to teachers who actually care.

  • dlnorri Jan 8, 2014

    The original intent of tenure at univerisities was to protect proffessors investigating controversial science (see what happened to the guy who invented the barametor, though not a proffessor). University tenure long ago became a crutch for slack proffessors. In public education Tenure was originally intended to protect teachers who needed to give they mayors kid a bad grade; We do not use grades anymore, makes the kids feel bad; and tenure is just a crutch to protect poor performing teachers. A good teacher does not need tenure to have a job; and it is not needed in public education (primary, secondary, or university).

  • UNC81 Jan 8, 2014

    ER costs are hardly a way to evaluate healthcare plans. You should almost never be going to the ER - that's why legitimate emergencies have such long wait times - people going there that should be at urgent care or calling their GP. I'm all for higher ER copays. It will help improve service.

    A 70% coinsurance is the standard "Bronze" plan under the ACA. That's decent insurance, although it may not be the high-end plans the state has paid for in the past.

  • damauro Jan 8, 2014

    I have been a teacher since '04, not to make $ or stay busy, but rather, to make a difference. Kind of like a soldier. I give my best every day in a way that prompts more thank you's than I can count. Thanks are nice, but added up, won't even buy a cup of coffee. Over the last decade, my carefully budgeted income has gotten clobbered by the same changes in our country that everyone else has felt. Many Americans take a part time job to make up for such losses, including teachers. The thing is, teachers can do that but are still expected to do top notch work all day, including what they take home every night, weekend, and holiday, hours for which they don't even receive comp time. Taking tenure away is just one more slap in the face, and restoring it won't come close to fixing the gap between what is and what should be. NC is making it up as it goes along. Other states have plans. I will send you a postcard.

  • holliemeininger Jan 8, 2014

    What's wrong with this is that the government can easily put every pass and fail on a teacher BUT when a student misses almost 30-45 days of school that parent is not held accountable. Tenure was never meant to protect the teachers who cared less but to reward teachers who are dedicating their lives to a profession. If you don't like the private sector rewards then maybe you should switch. Also, if administrators did their job properly then with the right amount of documentation tenure could not keep a poor teacher in the classroom. Tenure gives the teacher the right to be notified and have a hearing if their job is in danger. I personally believer with more parent accountability and less government involvement, the education system in NC can really become one high standards. But how dare we tell a parent they arent doing there job ... nope we can only do that to teachers.