Teacher tenure ruling may spark debate in Mass.

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Teacher tenure. Is it a good thing or a bad thing for the education system?

A California court has declared teacher tenure as unconstitutional. It’s a ruling that may fuel similar debate around the country, including in Massachusetts.

The knock on teacher tenure is that it makes it difficult to get rid of bad teachers.

Supporters say it helps to attract more talented teachers and protects them from the politics of the system.

Lara Ramsey is a 4th Grade Teacher. “It ensures academic freedom, which insures that a democracy of ideas can get into higher education, people are trying to protect their jobs. So being cautious about what their willing to research of the ideas they are willing to bring up in class. But on the other hand I know that it can risk laziness.”

The collaborative for educational services told 22News the rules on tenure are different here in Massachusetts. Instead of it being given. It’s earned, through proficient teaching and then maintained through teacher certifications.

Bill Diehl is the collaborative’s Executive Director. He told 22News a district’s social and economic factors can play into educational performance. He said low performing students aren’t always a reflection on the teacher.

“Their students aren’t doing as well as a teacher in a wealthy suburban district. The teacher in the urban area isn’t punished or let go because the don’t appear to be teaching as well. It’s a protection for those teachers. I think it’s a very important part of our system frankly,” said Diehl.

But Alison Schoen, who’s studying to be a teacher, told 22News that sometimes tenured professors can take the protection too far.

“Some of them just say what they want. It difficult because they are so opinionated and they know they are not going to have any repercussions if they do say something,” said Schoen.

Tenure or ‘Professional Status’ as its called in Massachusetts is earned after three years of teaching.

The outcome of the California ruling doesn’t directly affect teacher tenure rules in other states.

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