Wake restores a protection for veteran teachers

Wake County again stands tall in announced intentions to offer teachers worthy and dignified job security. The system’s leaders intend to install a form of teacher “tenure” that will provide protections that Republicans in the General Assembly eliminated.

Republicans have put public school teachers in the bull’s-eye over the last couple of years, angry because the state’s teachers association opposed some awful budget policy that in effect cut public education at the very time more investment was needed.

And, yes, though GOP lawmakers gave early-career teachers a pay boost (after considerable blowback on the treatment of teachers) they didn’t do much for veteran educators. And they passed changes in state law in 2013 that prevent any new teachers from earning career status, which is sometimes called tenure. A lawsuit is in progress to challenge that change.

Tenure, in fact, is not exactly a correct term in the case of the state’s teachers, as it implies they’ve had the same protections as college professors, for whom “tenure” is a form of iron-clad job protection.

But credit Wake County’s school board for recognizing that teachers deserve some protection. The board is going to give veteran teachers job safeguards: They can be fired only for one of 15 specific reasons, they’re entitled to a written explanation for dismissal and they can get a hearing before the school board.

Teachers are expected to be miracle workers, to give each child in their care a quality level of instruction no matter how varied the backgrounds, financial and educational, in a given classroom. The very least they deserve is some measure of dignified job protection, and that is what Wake is going to provide.

Republican lawmakers will not take kindly to Wake’s action. It will be interesting to see whether they intervene to take from local school boards some of their jurisdictions because of one county’s wisdom. That would be a waste.