Yesterday Senator Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) introduced major school reform legislation (S 361). A closer look reveals even though the bill is a follow up on many of the topics included in a similar bill introduced last year, there is still much to like. The bill links teacher performance and student progress, improves teacher quality and assigns letter grades to schools to help parents assess school performance.
The bill also includes significant provisions regarding the removal of teachers and administrators and allows local school boards to offer teachers contracts of varying lengths. Specifically, a local board of education could offer teachers with less than three years a one year contract. Local boards of education would have the option of offering teachers with three or more years of experience contracts that which vary in length from one to four years. The bill would end the status of offering teachers (and others) life-time jobs. Teachers, administrators and others with tenure could only be removed for violating any one of the existing criteria spelled out in (G.S.115C.325(e)(1). Since current law offers no definition of inadequate performance –the first stated criteria in the statutes – S. 361 provides a badly needed definition; “the failure to perform at a proficient level on any standard of the evaluation instrument or otherwise performing in a manner that is below standard.”
I applaud Sen. Berger for including the clarifying language. It’s fair and useful and helps to balance the interests of teachers, administrators, parents and taxpayers.
A similar provision to end teacher tenure was also in the original version of the education reform bill (SB 795) bill. As the legislation proceeded, the provisions to remove teacher tenure were removed, no doubt in an effort to improve its chances for passage and also to sidestep a major fight with the Governor and teacher unions. With a Republican Governor and veto-proof majorities in each chamber, the chances for significant education reform are as strong as they have ever been. But still expect a fight, a big fight.