Wake school board grapples with end of teacher tenure
Posted January 7
Updated January 8
Raleigh, N.C. — 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.