There is an interesting exchange on Fred Klonsky’s blog, as a discussion of the Green Dot charters becomes an occasion for discussing what’s ‘public’ and what’s ‘private’ in education, and teacher union stratagies and approaches to charter schools and small schools. Fred is the president of an Illinois NEA local. [You have to read the comments to really appreciate the dialogue.]
Having taken a ‘blood oath’ that we would respond only to substantive discussions of the ‘Green Dot tenure’ issue, it was a welcome development that today Eduwonk’s Andy Rotherham addressed the question of whether the term ‘tenure’ was a useful point of departure for a discussion. There are some not insignificant points of agreement between us: the real question is whether Green Dot teachers have due process rights against arbitrary and unreasonable discipline and dismissal, whatever term is used to describe it. Where we still disagree is that Andy seems to think that Green Dot’s ‘just cause’ standard and a grievance process that culminates with a hearing before an impartial arbitrator is a level of protection less than tenure. We don’t see that, and we have yet to see anyone even try to explain how that is the case. If anything, the Green Dot contract offers greater protection, since it covers all employees, where tenure protections do not cover probationary employees in their first years of service. Quite frankly, the public discourse around tenure and the actual real world of tenure rights are two very different things, in no small part because those who seek ‘at will’ standards of employment have a vested interest in promoting the idea that ‘tenure’ keeps school districts from dismissing teachers who are not doing their work.