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NC teacher tenure law ruled unconstitutional

Generic classroom // teaching (WGHP file photo)

RALEIGH, N.C. — A judge ruled Friday that a law cutting teacher job protections in North Carolina is unconstitutional, according to the Associated Press.

Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood said veteran teachers have an established right to a layer of review beyond school administrators when they face firing, according tot he report.

Hobgood says the law passed by Republican lawmakers in 2013 violates constitutional rights that protect contracts and prevents governments from taking a person’s property.

North Carolina law for more than 40 years has said veteran teachers cannot be fired or demoted except for a series of listed reasons that include poor performance, immorality and insubordination.

46 comments

  • Chucky

    This is likely to be one of many actions that they took last year that will be ruled unconstitutional. No surprise here.

  • Moses

    No the teachers can continue to fill our young people with idiotic information like why America never went to the moon; that was a video seen in one of the schools in Randolph county some years ago; I was a substitute and that is what some kids told me

    • Gordon Ingram

      So you are going to believe what some kids told you?
      Please don’t be fooled into thinking that what most teachers teach comes from them. You need to focus on the folks at a state and national level that actually create and then mandate idiotic curricula like what is being taught currently.

  • Katie

    Cna yolu read? It says veterans can still be fired for poor performance. They are just still allowed due process is ALL tenure promises!

  • j

    Can someone tell me how many teachers in Guilford County were let go due to poor performance?? How does this compare to the private work force.

    • TJ

      The main difference is that you need “just cause” and have to prove the teacher is doing poorly (which is easy if the administrators observe and document the teacher’s performance). With tenure a teacher cannot be laid off until all other teachers in his/her area/subject without tenure have been laid off. A teacher with tenure cannot be fired because he/she is the teacher’s union president (it happens). A teacher with tenure cannot lose his/her job because he/she doesn’t go to church on Sundays (it happens). A teacher with tenure cannot be fired because the high school needs a new football coach and the person the Board wants to hire is only certified in one area (it happens). It keeps Board members from firing teachers because the Board members kids flunk a class.

  • Sinner frank

    So if job performance requirements are low enough,NO one ever gets fired !! Now does anyone know actual performance guidelines for N.C. teachers ? How many show up each day that are certified educators !! It is all ways the questions you do not ask that will lead to problems !!

    • Bob Armstrong

      That would be always I believe, not all ways. If that’s how good your grammar is, I question how it is you still have a job. By your standards, you would have been fired a long time ago. As you say, incompetence should not be rewarded with a permanent job.

    • TJ

      Sinner Frank. Teachers are held to a high standard. You are welcome to read the teacher evaluation process. It is public information. Here is a link to the previous evaluation instrument if you are interested in reading further. http://www.ncpublicschools.org/docs/effectiveness-model/ncees/instruments/teach-eval-manual.pdf There is a new one now, but I couldn’t find a link to it in the 10 seconds it took me to find the older instruments.

      Basically, teachers are observed 3 or 4 times per year in their classrooms for formal observations. Some of them the teacher is aware of, others are unannounced. This is so that an administrator (Principal) can see the kind of job the teacher is doing in the classroom. At my current school, we also get over 15 or 20 unannounced “walk-throughs” where an administrator will show up unannounced and stay for about 10 or 15 minutes. An administrator should have a pretty good idea how a teacher is doing by the end of a school year. After each observation, the teacher gets feedback from the admin. This can be very helpful, especially for new teachers. Most teachers don’t just show up on day one and do a perfect job. It takes years to hone your skills as a teacher. If an administrator does his/her job right, the “bad” teacher will never get tenure. I know many teachers over the years that lost their jobs prior to reaching tenure (it’s actually called Career Status in NC). Even still, and administrator can document a teachers performance and if they have enough evidence, can fire a tenured teacher after going through due process. I have seen this done before as well.

      I hate how so many people have such a simplistic view of the teaching profession and give so little respect to some of the hardest working people out there. I feel that some of the media outlets and talking heads want to poison peoples’ minds with so much negativity towards teachers. They paint this horrible pictures where most schools are failing and America’s schools are the pits. America’s school are amazing. Still among the best in the world, if not THE best. Most schools are not failing. Most are incredible. Some do almost the impossible. We need to stop coming down on public educators so hard and support them more. We need to treat them with the dignity and respect they deserve. Turn off the haters. They just make you hate.

  • Bran

    Tenure needs to go. There are teachers who don’t care about their students and are awful but can’t get fired due to stupid tenure. When you have a teacher who tells students she hates teaching them and she still has a job, there is an issue. They all call her Mrs. Saytan she is so bad.

  • David

    Tenure – as defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
    The right to keep a job (especially the job of being a professor at a college or university) for as long as you want to have it

    Check out Urban Dictionary for more.

    What a joke – outside of government and academia you have to earn your position everyday – there are no guarantees!

    • TJ

      Correction for David. This is copy and pasted from Merriam-Webster. David left out a part.
      the right to keep a job (especially the job of being a professor at a college or university) for as long as you want to have it.

      The key being the part about a professor at a college. We are not talking about college professor here. We are talking about k-12 educators and we do not have the right to keep our jobs as long as we want, even with tenure. If you read another definition on Merriam-Webster it says:
      a status granted after a trial period to a teacher that gives protection from summary dismissal

      Summary dismissal meaning firing you on the spot, basically. This is a more accurate definition.

  • Gordon Ingram

    I’ll turn a common response to a teacher back on you. “You chose your profession.” Would your comment have been the same if you worked in government or academia?

    • David

      Gordon, Absolutely my answer would remain the same!
      You are correct, at least in this country, we do get to choose our profession. Teaching is a very important profession (my wife was a teacher, my mother was a teacher, my maternal grandparents were university professors, my in-laws were teachers, the list continues) and just like any other profession, there are those that do the work and those that are there just to collect a paycheck. While there is no perfect way to “score” teachers due to the varying abilities of students they are given every year, tenure is not the answer. There must be accountability at ALL (local, regional, state, & federal) levels and to “guarantee” a job by granting tenure takes away the checks and balances that should be in place.

      • TJ

        Tenure does not guarantee your job at the K-12 level. It just gives you the right to due process. Your poor teaching must be documented and observed by administrators over a certain period of time. I know of multiple tenured teachers that I have worked with over my 15 year teaching career who were fired due to very poor performance. I know of even more teachers who never get to tenure because they are so poor. I know of one this year who is losing his job after 2 years of teaching who will never teach again and obviously never be tenured. If the administrators at the schools did their job, they could get rid of the “bad teachers.” There is a BIG difference between tenure at the University level and the K-12 level. For someone who apparently knows so many teachers, you don’t seem to know much about the tenure we are talking about in this article. Read this article. It might help everyone in this comment section: http://neatoday.org/2010/09/17/what-tenure-is-and-what-it%E2%80%99s-not/

        As a teacher, I see tenure as a benefit, just like healthcare or retirement. We get so little in compensation it’s nice to know that an administrator or board member can’t just fire me for no good reason. I have a family and we barely get by with what my wife and I make (she is also a teacher). I can’t imagine the feeling I would have if I did not have the security of tenure. And for the record, I am a great teacher.

  • Sniper762mm

    Bravo Sierra. This is just a superior (i.e. district) court judge ruling, which basicaally doesn’t mean a whole lot of anything and will not change the law unless, the state of NC decides not to appeal this judges ruling. The state will more than likely appeal the ruling and until the NC supreme court rules on it one way or the other, the law will more than likely remian in effect.

  • Chucky

    The problem with the law is it took tenure from teachers who currently have it. They cannot do that. Now if they had made it effective for those who were hired after the law took effect, they probably would have had no problem. A higher court would likely agree with the judge’s decision so Sniper, I wouldn’t say it means nothing.

    • Jennifer

      DavidANC: The issue is that tenured teachers are under contract. The contract says you will receive due process before firing. Since the contract is between each individual teacher and the state and there is no end date of the contract, the state was breaching their own contract by attempting to remove part of the contract they signed. The state could legally take away future tenure from all teachers who have not earned and signed this contract. The judge basically ruled it is unconstitutional to breach a contract, no surprise there.

      As for teachers being fired, in my 8 years of teaching I have seen numerous teachers fired for poor performance. A good principal will not allow bad staff to continue working at their school. Bad test scores make the principal look bad, therefore it is in the principal’s best interest to fire bad staff.

    • JWS

      Because you have allowed North Carolina to be a “Right to work state” and you are brainwashed against unions or any workers rights. You have no one to blame but yourselves.

  • Sandra Nunn

    This is SAD! too many teachers once they get the TIME in NO longer teach they JUST ROOST or ROCK. They feel like they can do ANYTHING and not get fired . OUR kids are the ones who suffer!

  • Ed

    All persons responding to the Judge’s ruling need to realize that without a teacher, none of us could read, write or do arithmetic. One of the most important professions should not be shown the level of disrespect that is exhibited by the public these days.

    • Jenn

      Amen! The public acts like there are no good teachers. Many of the teachers in our schools were there and loved by the students, the same people who disrespect teachers now. I understand there are a few bad teachers, but do not disrespect the whole profession because there may be a few bad teachers. There is a few bad eggs in every job. Stop chasing the good teachers out of NC.

  • Teresa McBennett

    “Tenure, or career status, offers teachers due process rights in the event of a dismissal or demotion. Its repeal,” said Hobgood. Just means that teachers can’t be dismissed at will. This is a great day for teachers and NC.

  • JWS

    And the law was passed and signed by so called “Constitutional Conservatives”. They would not know constitutional rights if it jumped up and bite them.

    • dewey

      ….and then after a doctors examination and a thorough explanation, they still would have no idea

  • Barb

    Teacher Tenure = Due Process. Nothing more. Criminals get due process in our court system. I certainly think educated, dedicated educators deserve due process. Most of us would not last one day in the classroom. Especially in the “not my baby, sue happy, my kid is the center of the universe, teacher’s can’t discipline” world we live in now. Don’t forget the “avg pay” figures we see includes county superintendent/administrators salaries in the mix. Starting teachers make under $31,000. Pay 6% off the top for retirement, another $675.00 per month for family health ins (12 months each year) and come home with less than $1,500.00 each month! They must also do continuing education. Yes, THEY DESERVE DUE PROCESS!

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