Making tenure count in the Big Apple

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New evaluation guidelines implemented this year have resulted in a dramatic shift in the number of teachers being awarded--and denied--tenure in New York City. Only 58 percent of those eligible were awarded tenure. Compare that to most districts where the percentage of eligible teachers awarded tenure is somewhere in the mid 90s. About one third of New York City teachers eligible for tenure had their probationary period extended for another year, while about 3 percent were denied outright.

Five years ago in New York, all but one percent of teachers were awarded tenure.

The push to make tenure a more meaningful milestone is long overdue. Tenure represents a nearly $2 million investment in a teacher over the course of a career. But traditionally the decision--or lack thereof--happens automatically. A teacher is awarded tenure on the first day of school of her fourth year in the classroom with little fanfare or thought.

The United Federation of Teachers is questioning the district's action. School officials may be thinking that the UFT can complain all it wants--but this is one area that is off the bargaining table and not up for negotiation.