Could redesigned K-12 teacher tenure actually improve student learning?
This paper examines lessons from higher education and the civil service and applies fresh thinking to offer new “elite” and “inclusive” tenure designs and a framework for policymakers who want to make tenure meaningful. Today, K-12 tenure is granted to nearly all teachers, with almost no criteria, and within the first few years of teaching. As a tool to strengthen our nation’s schools and children’s prospects, tenure has failed. The culture of tenure and costs of associated pay scales also have created a nearly universal glass ceiling for the best teachers. But discussions about tenure nearly always fall into the “keep it or scrap it” camps. This paper inserts level-headed thinking into the K-12 tenure debate. A brief presentation, prepared for The Joyce Foundation, outlines key findings.