Teacher tenure is effectively a permanent job contract for a college professor or, in some cases, a primary or secondary school teacher. Tenure is granted to individuals who have proven their teaching skills, conducted meaningful research, published papers, and helped their educational facilities by participating in committees or creating policies. In most cases, a teacher must work between two and seven years before becoming eligible to receive tenure. A professional with teacher tenure cannot lose his or her job without just cause, such as obvious incompetence or severe misconduct. Tenured teachers are granted the freedom to pursue research and interests of any sort, even if they are unpopular or not in line with the opinions of authorities.
At most universities and colleges, a teacher must demonstrate competence and achieve results both in and outside of the classroom for at least six years. He or she needs to excel as an instructor, teaching appropriate material and giving students every opportunity to succeed. In addition, a hopeful professor is usually required to write papers and conduct research in his or her specialty. A biology instructor seeking teacher tenure, for example, may be expected to spend significant amounts of time conducting experiments and independent research in the school's laboratories, publish scientific papers regarding important findings, and become an active participant in local and global scientific organizations.
In addition to publishing papers and teaching courses, an individual seeking teacher tenure at a university usually participates in academic committees. An instructor might focus on departmental issues, such as designing new courses and graduation standards, obtaining books and supplies, and organizing curricula. He or she may also work with a board of directors to make decisions regarding university policies and procedures, financial matters, or other pertinent topics. Instructors who have done the most for their schools and their students are generally awarded tenured positions when they are available.
In primary and secondary schools that support teacher tenure programs, successful instructors may be granted tenure in as little as two or three years. Non-college teachers in public institutions have the opportunity to gain tenure after they complete a probationary period, in which their performance is analyzed by administrators and school superintendents. New teachers who can prove their abilities during the probationary period can be granted tenure and enjoy accompanying job security.
Once teacher tenure has been granted, the instructor usually signs a contract with school authorities stating that he or she cannot lose her job without just cause. He or she can conduct research, write papers, and give lectures on topics and opinions of any nature. Even if authorities, students, professors, or the general public disagree with their actions, tenured teachers are in no jeopardy of being terminated. A professor can still lose his or her job, however, if he or she fails to provide students with an adequate education or blatantly breaks university, local, or federal laws. Tenured teachers who maintain their personal and academic integrity usually enjoy long, respected, rewarding careers in their field of expertise.