Saturday, August 9, 2014

Whoopi Goldberg Tenure Controversy

Whoopi Goldberg Tenure Controversy:

Making Whoopi: Missing the Point in the Tenure Debate

Whoopi Goldberg Tenure Controversy
Whoopi Goldberg
Talk show host Whoopi Goldberg’s impromptu rant this week regarding teacher tenure reveals a great deal about the public misunderstanding of tenure in America. Faced with a significant backlash from teachers from across the nation, her unfortunate invective nevertheless provides an important teachable moment. To be fair to Ms. Goldberg, in the groundswell of disinformation that currently clouds the public discussion on this issue, her remarks are not unlike those of many who remain woefully misinformed about tenure and its function in K-12 education.
Like Ms. Goldberg, many persist in holding the belief that a grant of tenure means that teachers have jobs for life. This, however, is neither the scope nor purpose of tenure. Part of the problem derives from the word itself. The varied use of the term in different segments of education has fueled some of the misunderstanding. At the university level, for instance, an awarding of tenure results in the grant of a perpetual contract earned by the professor for demonstrating excellence in teaching, research, and service. It is a rigorous process, involving both internal and external examiners. Once tenure is granted at the college level, it is difficult but not impossible to revoke. It exists, however, less to insure job security as much as to promote academic freedom and a culture of critical exchange in which scholars are free to pursue complex and controversial issues without fear of arbitrary termination.
Tenure at the K-12 level, however, does not carry the same weight or function. Contrary to popular perception, it merely extends to teachers facing termination the assurance of due process—a function essential to fairness and democratic practice. It requires that administrators provide a clear record Whoopi Goldberg Tenure Controversy: