Laying Siege to Seniority

Faced with dismal school performance and tight budgets, politicians are reneging on the idea of teacher tenure

Tenure for 2.3 million public school teachers, one of the sacred cows in American education, is under attack. For decades, thanks to strong union contracts and ingrained notions of academic freedom, underpaid schoolteachers ! could at least console themselves with the fact that they were pretty well assured of job security for life. But after years of dismal school performance, and under the strictures of shrinking budgets, legislators are suddenly reneging on the deal. "Professionalism and tenure are antithetical," says Chester Finn Jr., a former Assistant Secretary of Education and a proponent of free-market solutions to educational problems. "Teachers can't have...