The Missouri State legislature is considering legislation which would end tenure for teachers in the state. Supporters claim that tenure allows incompetent teachers to remain on the job and it was time to weed out poor educators and replace them with good ones. When put this way, who can oppose firing the incompetents–wether they be teachers or firemen or doctors or nurses? The issue is not getting rid of incompetents,the issues are: defining incompetent, and figuring out who does the firing.
Tenure arose as a mechanism to protect teachers from outside forces which sought to control what was being taught. Liberal teachers who expressed views that ran contrary to a local conservative ran the risk of getting fired. Tenure deals was much with freedom of speech and freedom to teach as it does with who is incompetent.
Every occupation confronts the issue of getting rid of incompetent people. Most business enterprises leave primary responsibility in the hands of supervisors. Why not adhere to the same policy towards teachers?