Teacher tenure policy hits roadblocks

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Even if North Carolina teachers’ pay was closer to the national average, the decision to tie a salary increase for the best 25 percent of teachers to tenure would seem odd, especially as that policy passed the N.C. General Assembly last year.

Republican lawmakers have targeted tenure as if it were some ironclad guarantee that every bad teacher in the state will stay in place forever. It’s not. It simply allows teachers who have been in their jobs for four years or more an appeal hearing in the event of a dismissal.

The legislature offered an annual bonus of $500 a year for four years to the top 25 percent of the teachers in every system in the state – provided they give up their right to tenure.

That’s a strange way to “reward” the best and brightest, especially if you’re convinced that lower-performing teachers in the system are the ones who don’t deserve an appeal process.

It’s little surprise that teachers and even local boards of education have balked at the legislature’s directive.

Some systems have struggled to find a fair way to determine who the top 25 percent of the teaching force includes. The Guilford County Board of Education has even filed a lawsuit challenging the legislation.

Gov. Pat McCrory and key leaders of the General Assembly have promised to make teacher pay a priority in the short session this year. That’s welcome news to teachers all over North Carolina. The legislature should take that plan a step further and repeal the law they enacted last year.

Perhaps then, teachers in North Carolina might feel as wanted and appreciated as they should be in positions so critical to the education of our young people.