CHAPEL HILL – A stipulation seeking to end teacher tenure found new life in the state senate’s recently released $20.6 billion budget.
“It’s another smack-down on the whole idea of teaching as a profession. We run the risk of losing good teachers who feel that maybe once they don’t have tenure—they may want to pursue other careers,” said Jeffery Nash, the Executive Director of Community Relations for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools.
Teachers currently are eligible for tenure after four years of consecutive contract renewal—giving them “career status.” Teachers’ contracts are not re-evaluated after receiving tenure and they also have the right to a hearing before being fired—also known as due process. Due process means it can take months to remove a teacher.
The legislation, known as Bill 361 in the senate, was a focus of Senate Education Chairman Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger. The House already passed its own bipartisan tenure reform that proposes to alter career status for teachers, but does not entirely remove termination protection.
Still Nash says CHCCS System relies on recruiting teachers outside of North Carolina. Offering the option of tenure is a big part of enlisting top instructors.
“We’re competing against Georgia, Virginia, South Carolina, and other parts of the country to get teachers from across the country where tenure is probably even stronger,” Nash said. “To tell them that tenure isn’t an option, that’s not going to make them want to come to North Carolina.”
This provision is just one of many that educators have said is threatening the education system in North Carolina. Other reforms currently moving through the legislature are seeking to eliminate salary bonuses for teacher with master’s degrees and boost funding for private school tuition vouchers. Some argue that this will deplete money allotted to public schools.
“It’s going to make recruiting harder, and recruiting is a big deal here. If we had more teachers coming out of the state, that might make it easier. But we are still growing through the tough times, and that means we depend on getting teachers from out of state,” Nash said.
The House of Representatives is now debating its version of the spending plan.