From an editorial Sunday in the (Raleigh) News & Observer:
The fight over teacher “tenure” in North Carolina has arrived at the state Supreme Court, and it’s fair to predict that a Republican-dominated court will likely back a move by GOP lawmakers to end career status for public school teachers. The state Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of teachers, saying that a plan to phase out the status adopted in 2013 amounted to an illegal taking of contract and property rights.
It was a good ruling, penned by Judge Linda Stephens, who wrote that for 40 years, the career status – a more precise word than tenure for the benefit teachers have enjoyed – has “been a fundamental part of the bargain” for teachers to work in North Carolina instead of going to other states or other jobs where the pay is better.
It’s a benefit that teachers should continue to enjoy. The attack on career status from Republican legislators is simply politics and punishment.
The truth is, so-called tenure is hardly comparable to the protections university professors enjoy. All that “career status” means is that teachers with seniority can’t be fired without having a hearing and a chance to defend themselves. Administrators can still fire bad teachers for poor performance, immorality and insubordination.
The protection has been supported by administrators in the past. There’s no evidence that career status protection keeps bad teachers in place or guarantees anyone lifetime employment.
Perhaps teachers will carry the fight on up the legal ladder. They should.