LETTER: Referred Measure 16 will not help teachers or studentsSome claim that eliminating tenure for teachers is necessary to get rid of poor teachers and retain good ones.
By: Stephen T. Morgan, Mitchell
To the Editor:
Referred Measure 16, commonly known as HB1234, does not improve education. Some claim that eliminating tenure for teachers is necessary to get rid of poor teachers and retain good ones.
School districts already can, and frequently do, terminate or “non-renew” contracts of teachers deemed to be unproductive. No one has shown that the present evaluation of teachers does not work — the proposed law just presumes that it does not. Current procedures are designed to assess teacher strengths, identify weaknesses and guide improvement. Contrary to popular myth, tenure does not mean that a teacher can never be fired. Tenure simply requires a protocol and due process so teachers who have earned tenure cannot be fired for political reasons. For example: a teacher who is also a coach cannot be arbitrarily replaced with a “winning” coach.
Some claim merit pay and automatic bonuses for math/science teachers would raise test scores and reward good teachers for their work. There are several problems with this reasoning. First, numerous studies show that merit pay does not significantly improve test scores.
Second, the proposed merit pay system may not truly reward good teachers since no criteria must be met for math/science teachers to receive this bonus other than getting hired. Conflictingly, the proposed system assumes that other teachers are unworthy of an automatic bonus. Is it not equally important that children understand the Constitution and write well? The bonus proposal wastes state money by gifting to new math/science teachers who then leave the state as experienced teachers when their bonus eligibility ends. Wouldn’t it make more sense to give adequate raises to teachers who are long-time contributors to and have firmly planted themselves in our communities?
Instead, we require experienced teachers to take extra assignments with no pay increase while we arbitrarily bonus new teachers. If the goal is to improve education, shouldn’t we pay the cost of advanced or continuing education for teachers who are willing to improve skills? Vote “no” on 16. There are better ways our money could be spent to improve education.