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(Teachers are the enemy? Not to most people. – promoted by Michael Bersin)

My home town paper, the Albany Ledger, recently ran a column by Senator Brad Lager titled “Quality Teachers Produce Quality State Results.” (I cannot provide a link to this column through the Ledger or through Sen. Lager’s Senate webpage.)

While I can’t argue with the headline, I’m not sure if quality state results are really at the heart of what I do as a teacher. None the less, the column was a typical constituent communication that relayed the Rhee-Sinquefield talking points about the abomination that is the Missouri Teacher Tenure Law of 1970.

I wasn’t too happy to read it, and have responded to the Senator.

I indicated that his column showed a lack of understanding of the Tenure Law. Let’s get this straight: Tenure does not guarantee a teacher a job. It guarantees due process. Administrators have the tools they need to remove poor teachers and replace them. If there is a fault to be found with the tenure process, it is with the carousel of administrators parading through most school districts, most for a short time, who kick the can down the road and do not process the necessary paperwork to move a poor teacher out of the district’s staff.

Short version: tenure makes the school district do its homework, too.

I am a tenured teacher, as is my wife, and as are several members of my immediate family. I work hard each day to provide my students with top-flight instruction and consider myself an asset to the teaching staff at my school. Through the years, have no doubt that without the protection of due process through tenure, ONE school board member with a bone to pick could have convinced three other board members to either reassign me or fire me. (Used to be two, until the law changed board memberships to seven.)

I asked the Senator, and I’ll ask you, gentle reader: Have you considered the impact on a community from a teacher with a long service history? Often, they are the most active, dependable people in their town. They own homes, contribute to the tax base, and are involved in church and civic organizations, all for the betterment of the community. They contribute a great deal to the identity of a community, and will often retire there. (My sixth-grade teacher tutored and mentored needy children in Albany well past retirement–almost up to the day of her passing, when in her late eighties.) My home town has an unbelievable number of retired teachers. They didn’t go there to retire, but the community embraced them and gave them the vote of confidence to stay and become a part of a larger family.

I’m not one of Sen. Lager’s constituents. I hope, however, readers of this blog site in NWMO will remind him that he owes his constituency the full story…and, it wouldn’t hurt to read the law before commenting on it.