Responding to the ridicule of teachers and the teaching profession by politicians and self proclaimed "experts"!
"Where is Albert Shanker now that we need him?" - Walt Sautter

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Teacher Tenure – An Unspeakable Evil (as cite by Tom Moran and the Perth Amboy “spark plug” in Sunday’s Ledger – Dec 4, 2011)

I had a wonderful evening yesterday. I went to dinner with my wife and two other couples (old friends). The meal was great and the conversation was just as enjoyable.
I got up this morning still feeling pretty good, that is until I picked up the Star Ledger!
Here we go again. Never a minute’s rest. Front paper headlines, “Public School Enemy #1 is Tenure”. Needless to say the good feelings with which I awoke were immediately dashed!
Now, let me make this clear, I am a retired teacher and would be not effected by any “tenure reform” but I can’t help being seriously offended by the injustice these new rules would impose. I am equally offended by the constant diatribe against teachers used to validate attempts to “reform tenure” and the attempts to ease teacher firing, eliminate seniority and reduce compensation and bargaining rights.
Again, all of these proposed “reforms” will not effect me personally but the justifications for them which constantly degrade the teaching profession do! I increasingly find it difficult to admit that I was part of the profession for forty years. It is difficult to be viewed as having been lazy, uncaring, greedy and poorly performing.
Now let me get back to the morning headline. The article was written by Tom Moran (a liberal – I thought) using numerous quotes from Superintendent Janine Caffrey of Perth Amboy. It is in essence a rewrite of the article she wrote in the Ledger a week or two earlier.
Again, in it, several cases of egregious conduct by teachers are cited and she bemoans the fact that tenure protected the teachers involved. Tom Moran holds her hand throughout the article portraying her as a champion of justice who was unable to fight the sinister, tenured teachers.
In the article, Caffery (“a spark plug of energy” according to Moran) tells of teachers arriving at work “so high on drugs that the kids could spot it a mile away”, “so incompetent”, “terrifying kids”, and “washing out a child’s mouth with soap”. None of these teachers can be removed according to Caffery, why not - tenure! “Get rid of it altogether” she proclaims.
“I don’t understand why people who work in public schools have greater rights and protections than other people” she says. I think Superintendent Caffery should review the history of education to find out and maybe she might find that it is to protect teachers from people like herself.
I was the Grievance Chairman for fifteen years at the school system in which I worked. I was privy to many situations within the district (of about four to five hundred staff members) and never did I encounter such problems as does Caffery. Maybe it was luck on my part or maybe something else on her part?
Additionally, I noticed throughout the article, Moran never inquires of anyone, except Caffery about all these incidents. I suppose he assumes the “spark plug” has all the correct information that he needs in order to write his attack on teacher rights.
Oh, but then again, we don’t want to punish the “good” teachers only the “bad” teachers by denying tenure to all teachers!
Lastly, the article claims that removing a tenured teacher costs up to $200K and that’s a prime reason to eliminate tenure. Where does that $200K go? Into the pockets of lawyers representing both sides. Maybe, instead of just eliminating tenure, a cap on legal fees spent by both the BOE and accused teacher during a tenure charge hearing would be a better solution.
But wait! Do you think the legal community would go for that? We can’t offend them. They pretty much run State government (and the NJDOE). It’s much easier to end tenure. Teachers will complain but they don’t have nearly the wherewithal (nor the gumption) of the lawyers to fight back. Teachers are a much easier target!


  1. Walt,
    I'm interested in the article regarding the Perth Amboy Superintendent and all her woes of her poor teachers. It's hard to comment without reading the whole article. Maybe you could help us find out where to get a copy.

  2. Good essay, I also like your response to Tom Moran on tenure. I think he is a guy who envies the defined benefit pension and job security of teachers. He has similar education without these benefits so he thinks that teachers should not have them either. Now there is an “objective” journalist.

  3. You spelled "affect" wrong.


What do you think?