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Letters: Teacher tenure bars arbitrary acts

Teacher in a classroom.

Teacher in a classroom. Photo Credit: File Photo

Regarding Anne Michaud's column, "Challenge to teacher tenure revs up" [Opinion, July 2], tenure is a necessary safeguard that allows good teachers to speak freely as professionals on behalf of their students and their families.

In New York, teachers earn tenure after three years -- during which time thousands leave the profession. Once a school board grants tenure, however, it only confers the right to a fair hearing before an impartial third party. This due process of law -- the same underpinning that shields police officers, firefighters and other public servants from nepotism, favoritism, patronage and arbitrary dismissal -- is the linchpin of our judicial system and is grounded in the U.S. Constitution.

History shows tenure's basic protections are necessary. Because of tenure, teachers are able to speak freely on public policy issues, like the effects of poverty and over-testing on student learning.

Andy Pallotta, Albany

Editor's note: The writer is the executive vice president of the New York State United Teachers union.

Tenure is not, should not, and was never intended to protect teachers who engage in sexual or other misconduct. It is intended to protect competent teachers from the threat of arbitrary or capricious dismissal, and that's what it does every day.

Without the due process rights afforded them under tenure laws, teachers could be fired for questioning the decisions of administrators, assigning low grades to the children of Board of Education trustees or influential community members, participating in political or union activity, or -- gasp! -- making too much money.

Frederic Stark, Oceanside

Editor's note: The writer is the president of the Hewlett-Woodmere teachers union.


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