Tenure doesn’t mean lowering standards

From his recent letter, Tim Nuccio shows a complete lack of understanding of the tenure system and the role of unions in the workplace. It is false to say that tenure prevents employers from disciplining or firing employees. Tenure protects an employee’s job as long as they are performing their job to the standards set by the employer.

Nothing in a tenure system prevents an employer from disciplining (including firing) an employee for not meeting those standards. Generally, a tenure system calls for “progressive” discipline – which prevents an employer from disciplining without just cause.

In the example Nuccio mentions, the school could have used a progressive discipline system to either improve that teacher’s work or, if no improvement was made, dismiss him.

A tenure system with progressive discipline makes complete sense. It provides a sense of stability and commitment for the employee.

A teacher who passes the tenure evaluation has been vetted, ensuring that our children are being taught by experienced, qualified, and committed professionals. This is good for our kids, and it is good for our society. Stable jobs and a good education system lead to stable local economies and stronger communities.

Nuccio’s argument that unions are a “third party with a vested conflict of interest” also misses the mark. A union is not a “third party.” Unions are a collection of workers who band together to have a voice in their workplace. Individuals rarely have the power on their own to stand up for their rights in the workplace. Forming a union can gives them the power they deserve to protect their rights on the job. Whether they are factory employees, K-12 teachers, or graduate employees on this campus, workers have a right to ensure that their priorities are heard in the halls of power.

Dave Beck

Alumnus