Los Angeles Times Round III
Today we debate teacher tenure.
Despite Ralph and Walter's horror stories, there is a significant reason to be skeptical of our current tenure system in Los Angeles Unified. It has created intolerable working conditions for teachers, who are less concerned about "lifetime security" than their day-to-day school experience.
Tenure and lock-step salary schedules constrain the professional options of teachers and can create a less cohesive working environment. When principals have little control over their staff, working conditions suffer. Teachers need competition and choice among different kinds of work environments just as much as students.
Again Locke High School is representative of more general trends. The current system has failed when principal Frank Wells declares, "I went to Locke thinking I could turn it around, but I ran into a brick wall... The more you fail, the more money they throw at you. We're filthy rich; I don't want any more of your money. Send me quality teachers."
Wells needs control over his staff to make real changes at Locke. In addition, the number of Locke teachers willing to convert to a Green Dot charter, despite a high level of uncertainty as to each teacher's job security, speaks to the poor working conditions under LAUSD's current tenure-based system.