Truth Squad: Did Malloy Try to Eliminate Teacher Tenure?

Let’s just get this out in the open: Contrary to popular belief, Malloy never proposed to eliminate teacher tenure.

So, when the likes of Jon Pelto and his followers shout from the roof tops that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy “is the only Democratic Governor in the nation to propose doing away with teacher tenure,” what they are saying is absolutely and unequivocally false.

What Malloy actually promoted back in 2012 was tenure reform, which is a pretty popular idea and a far cry from trying to eliminate due process rights for teachers.

If the recent Vergara case in California has shown us anything, it’s that the current system needs to change. Seniority rather than merit based promotion is not only unfair to students, but also to other teachers. (i.e. the younger teachers who get laid off first, regardless of performance or effectiveness.)

Don’t get me wrong. I still think that teachers should continue to have due process rights and job protections, but I’m not alone in the belief that the current system in most states does this at the expense of children. According to the Wall Street Journal only 9 percent, yes, that’s less than 10 percent of the population; agree with the current practices in most states. That means that the vast majority of people recognize that reform is necessary.

So, really, what Malloy was proposing wasn’t as radical as Pelto wants us all to believe.

In fact, back in 2012, it was the Connecticut Education Association saying, “It is time to end teacher tenure as we know it.”

This quote, which became very controversial, is from a CEA pamphlet, which proposed that the state change tenure rules to make it easier to fire ineffective teachers by reducing the amount of arbitrators and scaling down the statutory timeline from 120 days to 85.

Malloy’s proposal was a bit different.

He wanted to base tenure decisions on an evaluation framework; one which was voted on unanimously by the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council, which included the leadership of the two unions. The difference really is that rather than receive tenure after a set amount of years; teachers could earn tenure in as little as three years or as many as five.

The bit that became controversial was the fact that Malloy proposed renewable tenure, which by the way, is still tenure. “Renewable tenure” still protects teachers against arbitrary dismissals, with the caveat that they have to continue to be effective in the classroom. In real terms, that meant that teachers would have to be evaluated at proficient or above for three years in a five year period in order to retain tenure. While I can see why this was controversial, it’s not entirely unreasonable in a state that’s claim to fame is having the largest achievement gap.

Of course, we also have to keep in mind this proposal also called for districts to provide professional development and additional support for teachers who need help reaching that goal and was similar to what’s already in place in New Haven Public Schools since 2010.

Unfortunately, rather than telling the truth about Malloy’s proposal, Pelto and others embellish details and make it seem that this proposal was outlandish.

The reality is, Malloy proposed reform, not elimination. You might not agree with the details, but it was, and still is a necessary conversation. One that shouldn’t be muddled by false accusations and self-serving political hyperbole.



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