2007-04-06 / Editorial/Opinion

First Step Toward Teacher Tenure Reform

New Electronic System Implemented

New York City Department of Education Chancellor Joel I. Klein recently announced the first step in reforming teacher tenure, a key component of the Children First school reforms. A new computer notification system will alert principals when teachers' probationary periods are nearing a close so they can make decisions about whether eligible teachers should achieve tenure. This new system started Thursday, March 29.

"I hope and assume that our principals have been working with their probationary teachers to help them become the best teachers they can be. Not everyone is going to be a good teacher, however, and it's up to school leaders to carefully assess each candidate and determine whether he or she deserves the substantial job protection afforded by tenure," said Chancellor Klein. "We want to ensure that all of our children have great teachers; we cannot afford to let ineffective teachers remain in our system. The new Tenure Notification System will help principals make thoughtful tenure decisions."

This week, principals will receive their first automatically generated monthly emails from the Tenure Notification System (TNS) listing the employees in their schools who are eligible for tenure within the next 12 months. The system will allow principals to enter and update information about their anticipated tenure decision for each employee. When principals indicate that teachers are not on track for tenure approval, the TNS will tell principals the steps they should take to document poor performance. It will also provide principals with direct links to necessary forms and to human resources support. The TNS will require principals to certify personally that a teacher deserves tenure before it can be granted.

The DOE is offering workshops to principals who have questions about tenure decisions or the new system.

This change follows Mayor Michael Bloomberg's promise in the January State of the City address that he and the Chancellor would strengthen tenure criteria and ensure that granting tenure is an affirmative decision. The DOE is currently reviewing the standards for attaining tenure.

The department will seek input in the coming months from New York City education stakeholders, including the United Federation of Teachers, and will implement the new criteria for the 2007-08 school year.

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