In the 1980s, Harvard Law School was known as “Beirut on the Charles.” Professors waged bitter tenure battles; students argued over issues like affirmative action. That infighting found its way into Gannett House, home of the Harvard Law Review
These days tenure for teachers is such a brawl in America’s elementary and secondary schools that it’s easy to forget that it’s more a cornerstone of higher education. When Austan Goolsbee, Chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors, announced earlier this month that he was leaving the White House to return to the University of Chicago it was a reminder just how strong the ties and inducements of university tenure can be, and why it has recently come under fire. At colleges and universities, tenure basically bestows a job for life unless an institution runs out of money.
Teacher effectiveness matters more to student learning than anything else schools do, and there are substantial differences between teachers. Those two points often get lost in the din about teachers unions or tenure