California ruling on teacher tenure fuels NH debate
"From the beginning, this lawsuit has highlighted the wrong problems, proposed the wrong solutions and followed the wrong process," said Scott McGilvray, president of the New Hampshire chapter of the National Education Association, the state's largest teachers union. "This lawsuit was not about helping students, but yet another attempt by millionaires and corporate special interests to undermine the teaching profession and push their agenda on California public schools and students."
"This is a closely watched case nationally," said Todd DeMitchell, professor of education and justice studies at the University of New Hampshire. "Unions were not explicitly targeted in this case. Instead, the statutes and the implementation of the statutes by school administrators, especially the dismissal statutes, was the focus. A lawsuit based on the quality of education provided is new."
"I think this is another example of a misconception people have with the term 'tenure,'" said Ben Dick, president of the Manchester Education Association. "People hear that word and think it means you can never get rid of someone who isn't doing their job. That's not what we have in Manchester or in New Hampshire. The fact is there is no such thing as teacher tenure in any New Hampshire public school, and no teacher, regardless of the length of time they have been teaching, has a guaranteed job for life. We have 'continuing contract status.'"
For decades, New Hampshire teachers reached "tenure" - or continuing contract status - after completing either three years of teaching in the same district or two consecutive years of teaching in the same school district and three or more consecutive years in another school district in New Hampshire.
The criteria to achieve continuing contract status increased to five consecutive years in the current school district, or three consecutive years in the current school district and five or more consecutive years in another New Hampshire school district.
"The ability to have their case reviewed by an objective panel ensures that school boards or administrators don't fire good teachers they may disagree with or who speak out on issues like student safety or appropriate use of district funds."
"Not yet, anyway, but you don't know what effect a decision like this might have," said Hainey. "Someone might decide it's the right time to try."
"Will New Hampshire legislators rush to embrace the perception that Judge Treu has provided the roadmap to get rid of the incompetent, and in the process reduce if not break the teacher unions?" asked DeMitchell.
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