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Posted at 6:32 PM ET, 02/ 2/2010

A failed Maryland teacher for changing tenure

By editors

By Jonathan Inskeep,

Regarding the Jan. 25 editorial “Race for education dollars”:

The basic assumption of President Obama’s Race to the Top education program is that there can be a relationship between quality of education and money spent but that money spent without reform could be wasted. The president has demanded certain changes at the state level in return for substantial federal money. For Maryland, we are talking about millions of desperately needed dollars. I would like to discuss one of those reforms.

In 1993, I voluntarily left a 21-year career in information technology in Washington, beginning as an operations clerk and ending at the vice presidential level, to teach fourth grade in a Baltimore public school. Call it a mid-life crisis, but let me say this: Teaching was the hardest thing I ever did for the least amount of money I ever made. I challenge anyone who criticizes teachers to do the same thing. It was a real eye-opener for me.

I failed as a teacher and resigned after four years, yet after completing less than two years of teaching, I was guaranteed tenure under the contract between the city of Baltimore and the Baltimore Teachers Union. I fully supported the BTU, but giving a failed teacher like me tenure was a mistake.

President Obama has asked for reform in return for substantial federal education funding. One of those reforms, supported by State Schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick, is that tenure not be granted so early in a teacher’s career. But there appears to be resistance in state government to this idea for political reasons. Democrats need union support, and this is an election year.

I call on Gov. Martin O’Malley to publicly endorse the reforms proposed by the president and the superintendent. Our educational system needs the money and the reform.

By editors  | February 2, 2010; 6:32 PM ET
Categories:  HotTopic, Maryland, schools  
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that's a bold statement to make. thanks for adding your real world experience.

Posted by: anon82 | February 3, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Jonathan Inskeep showed both honesty and bravery in writing his story.

He also showed other characteristics seemingly in short supply today; honor, integrity and compassion.

He is absolutely correct that teaching is a difficult and many times thankless task.
Some have a gift and passion for it, some don't.

If you don't, please make room for someone new. It's the right thing to do for the children.

Posted by: spamsux1 | February 3, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for sharing your experience. It was a hard decision to go into teaching and a harder one to leave but you were honest with yourself. ANY job holder should have such strenghth and flexibility.

It is important to not that your so-called tenure with Baltimore schools was and is not at all a guaranteed-for-life position. That merely means you had legal entitlement to due-process in being dismissed from the school system.

Remember, hundreds of teaching staff in DC were fired one month into this year and most of those had "tenure". A school board or chancelor can do almost anything they want, including showing complete disregard to honest, hard-working employees as well as wrecking a system.

Posted by: 1bnthrdntht | February 3, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Tenure should be literal... Ten year = tenure. Ten years of teaching should be enough to prove you have the chops for it.

Posted by: akchild | February 4, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

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