NCAE and others have been vocal in criticizing provisions in the State budget that would eliminate teacher tenure. As the largest teacher association in North Carolina and an arm of the National Education Association, NCAE’s actions are not surprising.
Still it’s fair to ask: Are Republican legislators stripping away teacher protections and ramming through unpopular changes? Let’s look at the facts.
Opponents fail to mention that teachers will be offered a series of one to four year contracts depending on their years of experience and that they will still enjoy the same protections against unjust dismissal and due process that they have always had.
Second, poll results suggest North Carolinians don’t support tenure. Over the last few years, the Civitas Institute has asked for voter views on tenure as well as views on proposals to end it. What did we find?
March 2013 Poll asked:
Do you favor or oppose the concept of tenure for teachers?
Favor – 37.5%;
Oppose – 49.9%
Don’t know/Refused – 12.6%
Do you favor or oppose allowing assistant principals and other administrators also have the opportunity to obtain tenure?
Favor – 30.4%
Oppose – 56.2%
Don’t know/Refused – 13.4%
May 2012 Poll asked a split sample:
Would you support or oppose a proposal to end tenure for teachers in North Carolina Public Schools?
Support – 75.3%
Oppose – 16.7%
Don’t know/Refused – 8%
Support – 67%
Oppose – 21.4%
Don’t know/Refused 11.6%
January 2012 Poll asked:
Would you support or oppose the elimination of tenure?
Support – 49.6%
Oppose – 32.9%
Don’t Know/Refused – 17.8%
So are the views of North Carolinians on teacher tenure out of line with those in the rest of the country? A 2012 National Survey in the education reform journal Education Next asked the following question:
Teachers with tenure cannot be dismissed unless a school district follows detailed procedures. Some say that tenure protects teachers from being fired for arbitrary reasons. Others say that it makes it too difficult to replace ineffective teachers. We want to know what you think of tenure. Do you favor or oppose offering tenure to teachers?
It’s not difficult to see why the legislature passed legislation to eliminate teacher tenure or why NCAE’s message is not resonating.