Forced to pay for it

Suppose a huge percentage of us do not want a particular thing. But we are forced to pay a lot of taxes for that thing. That thing that most of us do not want. Does this sound fair to you?

Most of us do not want teachers in public schools to have tenure. Most of us do not believe our public school teachers should be given jobs that are guaranteed year after year.

I saw one survey recently that claimed 92 percent of those polled do not want tenure for these teachers. (Now, that was only one poll. It was conducted by one TV network. Iím sure polls done by other networks would not be so lopsided. But I think we have had enough polls over the years to make clear a majority of us do not like the tenure system.)



So why do we continue to have it?

I know, I know. If you are a teacher you will defend your system. Who could blame you? My daughter was a teacher and I felt uneasy arguing that tenure should be ended.

However, it seems to me that tenure is not an easy thing to defend.

Suppose someone says teachers need protection. If they offend the wrong school board members with, say, their politics, they could get fired. My answer would be: Welcome to the club. Most of us do not have tenure. We may face the same fate. If I offend the wrong people at the newspaper or with my radio and TV programs I can get the boot.

Do any of us feel carpenters should be guaranteed work? No matter how old and slow they become? Should your car mechanic be guaranteed his job no matter how incompetent he is today? Should you feel all right about paying higher and higher repair bills? Simply because he is - and most of the mechanics in the area are - on tenure? And since they have been on tenure for years they draw ever higher wages? Does that sound fair?

That is the situation with many schools. They are top-heavy with older, tenured, highly paid teachers.†Their budgets are bloated with payments to those teachers. They cannot let older, more expensive teachers go. Even when some teachers grow really incompetent, getting rid of them can take years. Even when teachers are accused of malfeasance or worse, getting rid of them takes years.

Meanwhile, you the taxpayer pay for this. You pay extra taxes because of the tenure system. You pay these taxes while your job may very well have no such guarantee. You pay the taxes even though polls tell us a majority of us do not want such a system.

The pain of this is that this is within our public school system. Public. As in people. It is supposed to be for the benefit of the people. The people who send their kids, and would prefer to have good teachers rewarded and bad teachers sacked. The people who prefer their taxes pay for teachers who are not guaranteed employment no matter what they do and how they teach.†††††

From Tom ... as in Morgan.††††††††††††††††††

For more columns and for Tomís radio shows and new TV shows (and to write to Tom): tomasinmorgan.com.

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