Must-Read: Jesse Rothstein: The Economic Consequences of Denying Teachers Tenure

Must-Read: Jesse Rothstein: The Economic Consequences of Denying Teachers Tenure:

There’s just not actually a long list of people lining up to take the jobs…

If you deny tenure to someone, that creates a new job opening. But if you’re not confident you’ll be able to fill it with someone else, that doesn’t make you any better off. Lots of schools recognize it makes more sense to keep the teacher employed, and incentivize them with tenure. It’s all about tradeoffs. If you get rid of tenure and start laying off lots of teachers, and you don’t do something else to make the job more attractive, then you won’t get enough teachers… basically economics 101…. You get more people interested in teaching when the job is better, and there is evidence that firing teachers reduces the attractiveness of the job….

During the Vergara trial there was a debate over what would happen if we lengthened the probationary period, and whether principals would wait until the end of the clock to fire a bad teacher, or if they would they fire a lot of bad teachers at the end of their first year. I argued that it was unreasonable to expect the principals to make the firing decisions before they had to. It’s a lot harder to say, “I’m confident this teacher wouldn’t work out” than it is to say, “Well let’s just give it a little more time.”


Brad DeLong
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