Guest Column: Tenure breeds lazy lectures, stagnancy

Tara Verderosa

With the Nevada State budget in a perpetual downward spiral, education has been under attack. Nevada’s talking heads have proposed everything from eliminating extracurricular activities [such as sports and music], to redirecting all operational costs [which normally pays for building maintenance and electricity bills].

Student-teacher ratios have reached unrealistic proportions, and schools can no longer accommodate the masses they try to seat.

As a future teacher, I strongly support providing quality public education, one that delivers more than just the bare minimum. But there is one major change, brought to attention by the budget, of which I have become a supporter: eliminating tenure.

Perhaps I’ll regret saying this four years down the line when I’m living out of my car after losing my meager teaching salary to budget cuts, but hear me out.

While I believe fairness and job security is important [especially my own], I think the education system — both general and university­ — need to reevaluate keeping teachers staffed-based primarily on their seniority.

In most education systems, tenure is defined as padded job security, which ensures that a teacher cannot be fired unfairly. While this is great in theory, “unfairly” seems to have lost it’s true value.

At the University of Nevada, Reno, for example, it takes a tenured professor two years of consecutive unsatisfactory remarks to even be considered for dismissal.

In other words, even if a teacher is abysmal, it will take 730 days [in other words, approximately 12 college classes] before that teacher can be removed and replaced with someone more adequate.

That means for two years, students will be receiving instruction that is considered less than satisfactory.

And in the grand scope of the budget, that is two years of wasted salary pay.

In an ideal world, teachers would get better as they spent more time in the classroom.

The real world, however, couldn’t be any further from the truth.

Nevada is full of teachers who have become ingrained in their old ways, refusing to adapt to the changing personalities and learning styles of students.

Teachers become comfortable in tenured positions and lose their desire to contribute and put their best effort into the classroom.

At the university level, we continue to employ professors based on their research, despite poor ratings from students and only satisfactory teaching skills.

In any other profession, the idea of tenure is ludicrous. Jobs in marketing, journalism and even engineering can be lost in an instant based on one poor judgment call.

Only teachers are given a two-year window for messing up. And it’s an important place to clean up the flack.

For every day a poor teacher is in the classroom, there is a student who is likely not understanding the material.

Don’t get me wrong. I support education to the fullest — but not the type that focuses on keeping its employees more than educating students.

And while I agree that every employee deserves job security, it should not impede our ability to keep the most able and flexible teachers in the classroom.

The Nevada Sagebrush, U. Nevada via UWIRE