Proponents must galvanize public opinion to continue the practice.

The Future of Teacher Tenure

When many hear the term “tenure,” they immediately think of college and university professors. However, tenure also exists for teachers in primary, elementary, and secondary schools. Introduced in Massachusetts in 1886 and adopted widely in the 20th century,1 American pre-college tenure has continually evolved since. Today, 46 states offer teacher tenure, and an estimated 2.3 million teachers currently hold tenure status.2

Walden Offers 80+ Online Programs to Move Your Life Forward, find your program now.

What is tenure? Succinctly, it’s an employment status a teacher attains that protects him or her from termination. Protection from firing isn’t absolute; however, a tenured teacher enjoys significantly more job security than a teacher without it. Tenure ensures school districts exercise due process in any dismissal decisions and teachers cannot be fired without “just cause.”3, 4 In addition to job security, tenured teachers may earn higher pay than their non-tenured counterparts.5

As the teacher tenure track currently stands, a teacher becomes eligible after completing a probationary period in the workforce. Varying from state to state, the probationary period can be between one and seven years,1 but is frequently in the two-to-four year range.6 In addition to finishing a minimum probationary period, a teacher typically must pass an evaluation process, which may include performance criteria or educational requirements, like graduate coursework, continuing education credits, or a master’s degree in education.4

What is the current state of teacher tenure in the U.S.? Teacher tenure is still attainable in many areas, though many states are working toward preventing it. North Carolina, Florida and Kansas are phasing out tenure, repealing the status, or removing the due process protections associated with it. In seven states, local districts are required to demote teachers to probationary status if they haven’t achieved satisfactory performance benchmarks. Eleven states mandate that layoff decisions be based on teaching performance, not tenure status.6

Of course, some are for teacher tenure and others are against it. Though undoubtedly alluring for teachers, teacher tenure is a contentious subject today. Opponents dislike the idea of guaranteeing the continued employment for teachers when their career paths don’t offer similar protections. Many feel tenure encourages laziness and incompetence, since the incentives for teachers to perform well have already been attained.7 Opponents argue that tenured teachers are uninspired and unmotivated, impacting student achievement and learning experience.

Proponents argue that teacher tenure not only offers job security, but encourages the protection necessary for teachers to be creative in their teaching. Tenure prevents teachers from becoming victim to petty rivalries, favoritism or politics of administration. They say it also gives them the academic freedom to work toward student success without fear of unfair dismissal.8

What does the future hold? If teachers and their advocates believe teacher tenure is worth protecting, it’s their duty to shape the narrative and campaign to defend it. Each side offers valid arguments and reasoning, however, public sentiment is increasingly siding with ending the practice. It will take enormous, lengthy and painstaking effort by teachers to change the minds of the public and policymakers to revive K–12 teacher tenure and help it to endure into the distant future.6

If you’re interested in learning the best and latest teaching strategies to employ in tomorrow’s K–12 classrooms, Walden University, an accredited university with flexible online education options, offers online education degrees including a master’s of education degree. In Walden’s MS in Education program, MSEd degree candidates refine their own teaching approaches while helping future generations achieve in the classroom. Walden’s online master’s in education degree also has accelerated options in six specializations that can be completed in as few as 12 months.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering an online MS in Education program with 14 specializations. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.

Walden’s MS in Education accelerated specialization option is designed to be completed in 12 months; however, time to completion varies by student, depending on individual progress and credits transferred, if applicable.

1Source: certificationmap.com/teacher-tenure-debate/
2Source: teachertenure.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=006636
3Source: www.education.com/magazine/article/what-is-teacher-tenure/
4Source: careertrend.com/what-does-a-teacher-do-to-get-tenure-12596130.html
5Source: www.topeducationdegrees.org/faq/how-do-teachers-get-tenure-status/
6Source: www.ecs.org/teacher-tenure-continuing-contract-policies/
7Source: bigthink.com/does-teacher-tenure-have-a-future
8Source: www.hoover.org/research/end-teacher-tenure

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

Man sitting at latop
Whether looking for information on programs, admissions, or financial aid, we're here to help.
Whether looking for information on programs, admissions, or financial aid, we're here to help.
Talk to your personal enrollment advisor for more information today. Please use our International Form if you live outside of the U.S.
Talk to your personal enrollment advisor for more information today. Please use our Domestic Form if you live in the U.S.
*Required Field
Academic Interests
Required
Required
Contact Information
Required
Required
Invalid email address
Please provide a valid phone number
Required
Please provide a valid zipcode
Required
Additional Information
Required
Get Started

By submitting this form, I understand and agree that Walden University may contact me via email, text, telephone, and prerecorded message regarding furthering my education and that calls may be generated using automated technology. You may opt out at any time. Please view our privacy policy or contact us for more details.

Required

By checking this box, I agree that Walden University may contact me by email, text message, autodialed telephone call, and prerecorded message at the contact information provided above regarding opportunities and offers to further my education. I understand that I may withdraw my consent at any time and that my consent is not a condition of any purchase. I have received the Walden University Privacy Policy