Disagrees with Bean’s description of tenure

This letter, in response to Greg Bean’s Coda column “Tenure Must Be on the Table in Reform Talks”(Tri-Town News, Oct. 7), is in support of teacher tenure and my prediction of the dire consequences of its removal.

Before you discredit my opinions as self-serving, let me state upfront that I am not a teacher, and out of all my extended-family members, friends and acquaintances, I know only one teacher. However, I do know many people who were laid off from the corporate world, due to no fault of their own, after having long and successful careers. I am one of those people.

The corporate world has been laying off hundreds of thousands of employees over the past decade, mostly as the employees age and the corporations do not want to pay for their increasing pensions, salaries and benefits.

I was laid off in 2002 after a 24- year, good-paying, informationtechnology (IT) and accounting career, after always being rated above average and going above and beyond the call of duty. Since then, I have been either underemployed or unemployed. Not many places want to hire a 52-year-old.

It is my prediction that if teacher tenure were to be eliminated, older teachers would suffer the same fate as laid-off corporate employees. This would lead to a greater strain on our economy, as the unemployed people would turn to the government’s assistance for unemployment, disability and even welfare.

As Mr. Bean stated, tenure policy was put in place to protect older teachers against being laid off through no fault of their own and to protect them from the whims of management. Our economy would be in much better shape if there were similar policies in place to protect corporate employees.

Yes, there are good, young teachers who suffer because of tenure that protects older teachers. But I believe that it creates at most a 20 percent problem, with 80 percent of tenured teachers generally being deserving of such.

In fact, I have two sons in the eighth and 10th grades, and it was not until just this year that one of them encountered an older teacher who appears to still be teaching only because of tenure.

Mr. Bean cited two examples of two young teachers who lost their positions, but he did not state examples of all of the good teachers who do have tenure. Again, I believe that it is at most only 20 percent of the problem. So, if you eliminate teacher tenure, the 20 percent problem would get fixed, but the 80 percent non-problem would become a problem. This makes as much sense as “throwing out the baby with the bath water.”

He quoted a young teacher who stated that, “I’m going to go in and do a good job, and they’ll see that I’m doing a good job, and they’ll hire me again. I don’t need a piece of paper to tell me that I have to be hired each year.”

This teacher is young and naïve, with very limited insight based upon her very limited experience. She is correct in that she would likely be hired every year without tenure, as long as she remains young and relatively low-paid.

However, if tenure was taken out of the picture, there would be nothing to protect her as she progressively aged, whether she was doing a “good job” or not.

He stated that tenure laws “have protected many good teachers over the years,” but that the tenure laws “often protect ineffective teachers.”

Unless someone can determine definitive percentages of the extent of the problem, percentages which are derived from evidence and are better than my 80-20 guess, then it is ridiculous to state that tenure is a “shameful system.”

Mr. Bean stated that twice, in the beginning of two different paragraphs. I believe that since he did not state any quantitative evidence on the extent of the problem, it was “shameful journalism” on his part to call tenure a “shameful system.”

As such, I believe Mr. Bean needs to temper his outburst in a subsequent column and to present a much more objective and balanced picture of tenure.

Bonny Berger East Brunswick