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2017 in review
December 22, 2017
What we’ve learned: 5 lessons from education research to take into 2018
Researchers have worked through 2017 to separate fact from fiction.
the tenure track
May 5, 2017
For New York City teachers applying for tenure, success remains far from assured
Sixty-four percent of eligible teachers earned tenure last year. That's down from 97 percent a decade ago.
summer mix tape
August 30, 2016
Ten stories you might have missed over the summer (and should read now as a new school year begins)
There is no such thing as time off from covering education.
the tenure track
May 6, 2016
Exclusive: Teacher tenure approvals tick up, continuing a de Blasio-era shift
Sixty-four percent of eligible teachers were granted tenure during the 2014-15 school year, up from 60 percent the year before.
March 29, 2015
Budget agreement will change tenure rules, task state with eval overhaul
Many of the aggressive education policy changes sought by Gov. Andrew Cuomo — including an overhaul of teacher evaluations — will be addressed outside of the budget.
December 31, 2014
Tisch to Cuomo: Tougher teacher tenure requirements, faster dismissal process should be on the table
A longer probationary period for new teachers and an overhaul to the way teachers are terminated were among about two dozen positions taken by Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch and soon-to-be acting Education Commissioner Elizabeth Berlin detailed in a 20-page letter sent to the governor's office on Thursday.
December 8, 2014
Legal fight over teacher tenure continues
The legal fight over job protections for New York teachers is continuing, as the lawyers for the parent plaintiffs have filed a formal rebuttal to…
July 22, 2014
Teachers union steps into legal battle over tenure, against a former ally
The United Federation of Teachers is officially jumping into a legal battle against advocates who are challenging New York's teacher job protection laws.
August 27, 2013
Tenure crunch continues, but just 41 teachers denied on first try
Percentage of New York City teachers who had tenure denied or extended, 2006-2013 For the third year in a row, nearly half of teachers up for tenure last year did not receive it. But the number of teachers outright denied the job protection remained small. Just under 4,000 teachers were up for tenure in the 2012-2013 school year, with 2,551 of them facing the decision for the first time — fewer than usual because hiring restrictions had been in place three years earlier. Of the total, 53 percent received tenure and 3 percent were denied it, effectively barring them from working in city schools. The remaining portion — 44 percent — had their probationary periods extended for another year. Only 41 of the 2,551 teachers up for tenure for the first time this year were told they could not continue to work in city schools, according to city data. That means the denial rate for teachers in the tenure pool was about 1.6 percent, lower than in each of the past two years. The extension rate for teachers up for tenure for the first time was 44 percent, up slightly since last year. The high extension rate is a hallmark of the Bloomberg administration's efforts to make tenure tougher to achieve. Bloomberg vowed in 2010 to move toward "ending tenure as we know it," a change he favored because teachers who do not yet have tenure can more easily be fired. The previous year, 11 percent of teachers up for tenure had been denied or extended. At the start of the mayor's tenure, that figure had been about 1 percent.
August 17, 2012
Tenure rate holds steady, but just 42 teachers denied on first try
Percentage of teachers who had tenure denied or extended, 2006-2012 The city's two-year-old crackdown on "tenure as we know it" continued this past year with nearly half of the teachers up for tenure not receiving it. Just under 4,000 teachers were up for tenure in the 2011-2012 school year, fewer than usual because hiring restrictions sharply cut the number of new teachers in 2009. Of them, 55 percent received tenure and 3 percent were denied it, effectively barring them from working in city schools. The remaining portion — 42 percent — had their probationary periods extended for another year. The extension rate was slightly higher than in 2011, when 39 percent of teachers up for tenure had their decisions deferred under a revamped tenure evaluation process. But it is five times the extension rate from 2010, which was the first time that the city used the deferral option in large numbers. Mayor Bloomberg vowed in 2010 to move toward on "ending tenure as we know it," a change he favors because teachers who do not yet have tenure can more easily be fired. Last year, Chancellor Dennis Walcott predicted that more teachers would be denied tenure this year. UPDATE: But the denial rate for teachers in the tenure pool for the first time actually fell. Last year, 104 teachers eligible for tenure for the first time were denied it, for a denial rate of 2.2 percent. This year, that rate was 1.9 percent, meaning that just 42 teachers up for tenure for the first time were told they could not continue to work in city schools. The Department of Education's chief academic officer, Shael Polakow-Suransky, said today that the department had no firm goals for how many teachers should receive or be denied tenure. "This is not about hitting some numerical target at all," he said during a call with reporters. "What we’re asking principals to do is treat this as a big decision about: Is this teacher ready for lifetime guarantee of employment?"
August 15, 2012
Amid tenure crackdown, some targeted teachers get good news
Later this week, when the Department of Education announces the number of teachers who received tenure last year, it’s likely that the tenure rate will be lower than ever. It used to be that virtually all teachers who completed their third year were awarded tenure, which confers added rights. But ever since Mayor Bloomberg vowed to end "tenure as we know it" in 2010, fewer teachers have gotten tenure each year. Last year, fewer than 60 percent of teachers up for tenure received it; most of the rest had their probationary periods extended, sometimes for a second time. But for a group of teachers who were told earlier this year that their tenure recommendations were being rescinded, there is better news. They'll be receiving tenure after all. In June, GothamSchools reported that tenure-eligible teachers working in some struggling schools were having their probationary periods extended, even when the superintendent, who is supposed to make the final call, agreed with their principal's recommendation for tenure.
June 8, 2012
Some teachers say their tenure approvals are being rescinded
Some teachers this week are getting bad news about what they thought was already a done deal: their tenure. Teachers come up for tenure, which confers stronger job protections, after three years. In their third year, their principals recommend a tenure decision to the superintendent, who has the final say on whether to approve, deny, or defer tenure. But some teachers whose principals had already received superintendent sign-off found out this week that those approvals had been rescinded, according to principals, teachers, and union officials. The teachers are instead being offered an extension of their probationary periods, some for the second time. The scenario has played out at multiple schools, according to officials at the United Federation of Teachers, who said the schools all seemed to have low scores on their Department of Education progress reports. The reversals appear to mark a new phase in the Bloomberg administration's campaign to make tenure tougher to earn — or, as Mayor Bloomberg put it in a 2010 vow, "ending tenure as we know it." Last year, the city aggressively cut down on the rate of tenure approvals, instead extending the probationary period of 40 percent of teachers up for tenure, up from 8 percent in 2010, and many principals said their superintendents had rejected some of their tenure recommendations.
August 3, 2011
Bloomberg declares tenure is not needed in public schools
Less than two years after pledging that he did not want to end tenure, Mayor Bloomberg struck a different chord today. "Do I think it's needed at the public school level? No," he said today. The statement came days after Bloomberg's most recent escalation in rhetoric against tenure protections. During his weekly radio address last week, he said tenure is a vestige of the McCarthy Era of the 1950s, when teachers were persecuted for their political views. But until today he had not said outright that he opposed tenure's existence for public school teachers. In fact, in a Nov. 2009 speech at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C., he declared, “Let me be clear: We are not proposing an end to tenure.” Last year, Bloomberg promised "to end teacher tenure as we know it," but by making it tougher to achieve, not doing away with it. That vow appeared to bear fruit this year when the number of city teachers awarded tenure fell dramatically. Bloomberg was responding to a question I asked about what protections he thinks teachers should have given that Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott made clear that people who observe cheating should report it.
August 2, 2011
More U-ratings given out as evaluation overhaul looms ahead
For at least the sixth straight year, principals rated more teachers as unsatisfactory. Last year, 2,118 teachers received unsatisfactory ratings, setting them along a path that could lead to termination. That number, making up 2.7 percent of all teachers, was 16 percent higher than in 2010 and more than twice the number of U-ratings handed out five years ago. In the 2005-2006 school year, just 981 teachers received unsatisfactory ratings. About 80 percent of the teachers who received unsatisfactory ratings were tenured, according to Department of Education data. And about a quarter — 511 — received the scarlet rating last year as well. The numbers suggest that principals are responding to the city's sustained push to usher more weak teachers out of the system, and the city says 86 of the U-rated teachers have already resigned, including 41 who were denied tenure. But they hardly reflect a sea change in the way that principals rate teachers. For that, the city is counting on a new teacher evaluation system that will do away with the binary satisfactory/unsatisfactory rating choice altogether. State law now requires districts to enact evaluation systems that use student test scores as a component and sort teachers into four categories from "highly effective" down to "ineffective."
August 1, 2011
Citing array of experiences, teachers argue tenure remains vital
Two teachers say their experiences facing harassment after engaging in union activity are the surest sign that Mayor Michael Bloomberg is wrong about the need for tenure. On Friday, Bloomberg said during his weekly radio appearance that tenure is a vestige of an earlier time, the McCarthy Era, when teachers and others were persecuted for their political views. In the Community section today, Peter Lamphere and Rachel Montagano argue that teachers can still face unofficial sanctions for their politics or identities, making tenure just as vital now as it was in the 1950s. In February, Lamphere wrote in the Community section about his experience receiving unsatisfactory reviews for the first time after lobbying against an administrator at the Bronx High School for Science. Montagano is currently embroiled in a battle of her own to keep her job at MS 216 in Queens, where she faces incompetence charges leveled for the first time after she stepped up her union leadership. Lamphere and Montagano write: As two New York City teachers who have both been targeted with unsatisfactory ratings because of our union activity, we know from firsthand experience that tenure is one of the few protections for whistleblowers and teacher advocates.
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