Today I weigh in on the debate over teacher tenure and the status of North Carolina public school teachers — the state’s most powerful special interest group.
After years of rejecting progressives’ class warfare argument about “the haves” and the “have-nots,” I’m a bit embarrassed to acknowledge they’ve been right all along. Not only that, I’ve been a member of the “have-nots” and didn’t even realize it.
I’m one of the hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians whose job performance and value to my employer determines whether the boss keeps me or shows me the door. There are no special protections for we “have-nots.” We’re evaluated on the quality and quantity of what we produce, and on what our customers have to say about us.
Not so for North Carolina’s “haves.” It was only a few months ago that I discovered public school teachers enjoy a heaping helping of job protection pixie dust. Back in 1971, the General Assembly deemed public school teachers with four years on the job to be immune to the accountability we “have-nots” are saddled with. That’s when legislators used the power of government to bestow on teachers the muscular job protection known as “career status.” Otherwise known as tenure, career status cemented teachers as the state’s most powerful special-interest group.
Because of this special distinction, the No. 1 factor for a “have” in staying employed isn’t performance; it’s how long he/she has been on the job. After four years, “career status” kicks in and virtually guarantees that “haves” keep their jobs for as long they want them.
It is well past time to end tenure.