This Is Why Tenure Matters


Being unemployed has allowed me the opportunity to reconnect with friends I haven’t heard from in months or even years. The non- or former teachers have more time to talk, so we’ve met for lunch or dinner or coffee. Those who are still teaching are a lot busier, so it’s been a lot of text messages or Facebook Messenger.

So late one night a few weeks ago I sent a quick message to a teacher friend, not expecting a reply until after school the next day. To my surprise she was still awake, online, and ready to talk.

Given how we met, our talk quickly turned to schools and teaching. And to my surprise, now that I’m coming out of the fog of the first year of grief, I found out that my friend had a bad year last year too.

She told me about her inept principal.

Me too.

She told me about the false accusations her principal made against her and another teacher.

Me too.

She told me about the low evaluation scores she–an experienced teacher–received.

Me too.

Which was even more egregious since the evaluator left during the lesson but scored it as if he/she was there the entire time.

Me too.

She told me about how her principal was a bully and she had to get out of there.

Me too.

So she did.

Me too.

She transferred to a new school.


Here’s the thing. Not only is she an experienced teacher, she’s taught in this school district for over a decade. She has tenure.

I don’t. (Didn’t.)

There are those who say that tenure is a job for life. They’re wrong. In the K-12 world, tenure means that if they want to fire you, they’ve got to have the documentation to justify it. Tenure gives you (a little) job protection as a teacher.

My friends with tenure say that it’s not much, and that its power diminishes every year as new reforms are enacted.

But it’s more than I had.

My friend and I did not teach the same grade or the same subject. We taught on opposite ends of town in the same district.


She has tenure.

Which meant that after about twenty-five minutes of chatting online, she said she had to go to bed because she had school in the morning.

And after she signed off, I stayed online. Email and Facebook and Twitter and down the rabbit hole of websites.

What did it matter? I had nowhere to be in the morning.




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5 thoughts on “This Is Why Tenure Matters

  1. Claire Ensor October 12, 2016 / 1:10 pm

    Tragic. Thank you for sharing. I’m just barely hanging in there in my classroom. No tenure and no hope for things getting better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • undercoverBAT October 13, 2016 / 12:10 am

      I’m so sorry, Claire. Believe me, I get it. You sound like me last year (and the year before that, and…). Thanks for reading and commenting.


  2. Mimi McCorry October 12, 2016 / 10:52 pm

    Another really good one, undercoverbat! I SO connect with you on these issues.

    I too am in my (not first) but going into my THIRD year of grief.

    I too had in inept bully principal who made false accusations along with an inept bully special education coordinator in her first year.

    I too received a low teacher evaluation score for the first time after many years of experience. In fact, three previous evaluations were “effective”. But strangely enough, NO ONE EVALUATED ME THOSE YEARS AT ALL! But I had to sign the evaluation form to keep the job.

    And YES. I did have tenure.

    It doesn’t matter anymore.

    I stay online also, going down the rabbit hole – because I don’t have to get up tomorrow to do what I love.

    But I found you and others that help me see it’s happening all over America.

    I’m so thankful.

    Let’s keep it going. You have a VERY UNIQUE way of stating the truth here. Something for me and others to be glad about.

    Liked by 1 person

    • undercoverBAT October 13, 2016 / 12:15 am

      What continues to amaze me is HOW MANY of us have these stories. It is not just one part of the country (or even US-specific) or one grade level or subject or age group. And non-teachers are starting to see it too. I’ve encountered several new people recently during my job search, and I’ve hesitantly told them I was a teacher but I had a bully principal. And without fail, every single one of them has either been a former teacher who had the same thing happen *or* has a friend who had the same experience. It’s truly becoming an epidemic.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

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