Colorado’s New Tenure Policy Upsets Teacher Unions

apple for teacherIt just got a little bit harder for teachers to keep their jobs in Colorado. A new change to the state’s legislature requires teachers to be evaluated each year, and half of their rating will be based on whether or not their students made progress during the school year.

As for the new teachers, they will have to show they’ve improved their student’s achievement for three consecutive years to earn tenure.

Colorado’s teacher unions, who have defended the previous tenure policy for several years, are up in arms about the new one, while education advocates believe it is a step in the right direction. The tenure policy will make it easier to get rid of mediocre or even incapable teachers.

Teachers may lose their tenure if their students don’t make progress in two straight years. Before the new system, teachers only had to work for three years to gain tenure, which is the typical wait throughout the country.

Democrat Governor, Bill Ritter signed the bill into law last month. When it passed a key House vote and survived a filibuster attempt, Democratic Representative, Nancy Todd,who has been teaching for 25 years, broke down sobbing.

“I don’t question your motives,” she tearfully said to those who favored the bill. “But I do want you to hear my heart because my heart is speaking for over 40,000 teachers in the state of Colorado who have been given the message that it is all up to them.”

Other states have tried to reform their own tenure policies, but they have a long way to go before they can measure up to Colorado’s policies. Kate Walsh, the president of the Washington-based National Council on Teacher Quality, believes that Colorado is likely to win Obama administration’s Race to the Top competition, a $4.35 billion stimulus package that gives competitive grants to encourage and reward states that are making changes for educational innovation and reform.

“If I was a betting woman, I would absolutely put Colorado in first place,” she said.

Teachers unions have put political pressure on lawmakers to slow down the process of the the bill, so it won’t affect teachers’ tenure until 2015. While school districts will have the heavy load of giving reasons why teachers should be terminated, teachers have the right to appeal their dismissal to Colorado’s Supreme Court.

Via the Associated Press

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