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School officials say measure will cause teachers to leave

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on June 5, 2012 1:46 PM

Losing teacher tenure for public school teachers will hurt the state's educational progress, local educators say.

The state Senate approved Senate Bill 795, which eliminates tenure, Monday. It now goes to the House, although legislators concede it might not receive full approval this session.

The bill also calls for adjusting the school calendar start and end dates as well as adding five additional instructional days within the existing school calendar.

"There are lots of legislators making decisions for educators that have no idea about education," said Dr. Marvin McCoy, assistant superintendent for human resource services in Wayne County Public Schools.

McCoy's job centers around recruiting and retaining teachers. Earning tenure not only provides certified teachers with more job security, but increases the likelihood they will remain in the district, he said.

Tenure is awarded to teachers or other faculty members who have been employed for four consecutive years. They must also maintain a valid qualified N.C. teacher license and be recommended by their principal.

Of the current 1,250 certified teachers in the Wayne County school district, McCoy said the number that have completed the requirements and earned tenure status is close to 1,000.

"It's career status. You can go anywhere, states that have reciprocity, and start teaching in their states," he said.

In recent years, there has been growing concern about teacher shortages, particularly within the first three years of an educator's career. Some of the problem has been attributed to a lack of support, causing many to leave the profession.

Losing the chance at earning tenure could convince many teachers that their careers would be much less solidified.

"(If) legislators are looking to do away with tenure, all teachers would be on a one-year or two-year contract," he said.

The move would be both "alarming and disheartening," McCoy said, and for lawmakers to hand down such policies is short-sighted.

"Politicians say they want to retain the best teachers. First of all, you've still got a shortage of teachers. Baby boomers can go home -- and if all the baby boomers went home, we'd be crippled."

The state Department of Public Instruction, the association of school administrators and state Association of Educators all lobbied against the change.

McCoy said he knows lawmakers believe they are improving education but he said they are wrong.

"In their efforts to do what they believe is right, we could lose quality teachers because of all the new requirements. It could create a mass exodus for those that have enough time in to retire."

Even if the move allows school districts to extend lesser contracts, the incentive might not be sufficient, McCoy said.

"They could be released after four or five years," he said. "They may find something else to do, something with some stability."