The N.C. General Assembly will debate a bill this week that could affect every public school educator in the state.
Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, R-Guilford, introduced a measure in March that would end tenure for K-12 teachers.
Senate Bill 361
The bill includes a number of measures related to K-12 teachers:
- Effectively end teacher tenure and allow school districts to offer contracts for one to four years
- Call on the State Board of Education and the UNC-system Board of Governors to improve teacher education programs
Senate Bill 361 will be heard in the Senate education committee Wednesday, where it could undergo revisions.
Currently, teachers are eligible for tenure after their contracts have been renewed each year for four consecutive years. After receiving tenure, teachers’ contracts are no longer re-evaluated, and they are guaranteed a hearing before being fired.
Under the proposed bill, school districts across the state would instead be allowed to offer teachers contracts for one, two, three or four years. Teachers would still not be fired without a hearing while under contract.
Eric Houck, a professor at the UNC School of Education, said he is concerned about the potential effects of the bill.
“It really destabilizes the profession,” Houck said.
“It sends a signal to folks that it is not the kind of profession you can settle into. It makes it more difficult to attract and retain higher quality teachers.”
But Leanne Winner, the director of governmental relations for the N.C. School Boards Association, said the proposed changes would save money.
“To go through the actual process is costly in terms of dollars and time,” she said. “As the employer, it would be more efficient to not have to use a system like that.”
Still, the N.C. School Boards Association opposes the current bill because the changes apply to teachers who have already been granted tenure, which is unfair, Winner said.
The bill also calls on the N.C. State Board of Education and the UNC-system Board of Governors to improve teacher education programs, specifically the teaching of mathematics, scientific reading and children with disabilities.
Alisa Chapman, the UNC system’s vice president for academic and university programs, said the system supports any efforts to improve the education of future teachers, one of its highest priorities.
The UNC system has 15 schools of education that produce about 4,500 newly licensed teachers each year, she said.
“The distance between where we need to be and where we are currently going isn’t due to a lack of effort,” Chapman said. “I think the elements of this bill kind of move us in the right direction.”
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