A California judge this week dealt a blow to the practice of granting tenure to public school teachers, ruling that it allows bad teachers to keep their jobs and thus deprives students—especially minorities—of their right to an education. It's a closely watched case that will likely end up in the Supreme Court, but anyone who thinks that eliminating tenure is a "silver bullet" that will improve education is mistaken, writes Catherine Rampell in the Washington Post. In fact, it might even make things worse.
The real problem isn't getting rid of sub-par teachers, it's attracting and retaining quality teachers, writes Rampell. Teacher pay has stagnated, but they still get generous pensions if they stick around, and that's where tenure comes in. "The only way to credibly guarantee to teachers that they won’t get fired before their pensions vest is by giving them strong job protections." Tenure policies have abuses that can be addressed, but ditching the concept entirely is a narrow-minded solution, writes Rampell. Real reform is going to take real money, but "unfortunately, no one wants to pay for that." Click for her full column.