Sandoval, Oceguera agree: End teacher tenure

Victor Joecks

As teacher quality is “the most important school-related factor influencing student achievement,” ending teacher tenure is a no-brainer for anyone looking to improve student achievement in Nevada.

Currently, teachers in Nevada can get tenure in as little as one year of teaching. And once a bad teacher has tenure, it’s much more difficult to fire him or her for poor performance – even if the teacher does a poor job of educating hundreds of children.

The good news is that two of the three most powerful men in state government this year – Governor-elect Brian Sandoval and Assembly Speaker-to-be John Oceguera – have come out in favor of eliminating teacher tenure.

From Sandoval’s education plan:

Bring Private Sector Thinking to School Staffing
End Teacher Tenure, Set Aside Funds to Reward Good Teachers

The current performance evaluation system for teachers and principals is out-of-date and rewards endurance over performance. With recent changes to Nevada law requiring the use of student achievement data in evaluations, we have an opportunity to modernize the entire system in ways that reward the best, inspire the average to improve, and dismiss those who are failing.

Under Brian’s plan, a majority of teacher and principal evaluations will be based on student achievement. Salary schedules based on time served and longevity stipends will no longer be allowed – by statutory change, we will bring an end to teacher tenure; these funds will instead be used to fund a pay-for-performance system.

From Oceguera’s campaign page on education:

Eliminate tenure. School districts must recruit and retain the best teachers possible, and those teachers should be rewarded for success. School districts need to weed out ineffective teachers.

Oceguera gave more details to the Las Vegas Sun in September after he announced his support for this position.

Oceguera, in a statement, said, “We have great teachers in our state, but we hear from parents and principals that there are those who are not measuring up and should not be in the classroom.”

He called for a “fair but expedient process for getting inadequate teachers out of the classroom.”

And why is this necessary? Because the Clark County School District fires less than .12 percent of its teachers each year for poor performance.

But the Clark County Education Association, which represents teachers in the Clark County School District, said 20 teachers did not have their contracts renewed two years ago for reasons that would include poor performance. Last year 19 teachers did not have their contracts renewed.

There are roughly 17,000 teachers in Clark County.

From putting Nevada’s checkbook online to eliminating teacher tenure, there are many issues that appear to have bi-partisan support in the next session.

Citizens should hope that in these cases, our elected officials’ campaign promises match up with their actions.