Public schools, and particularly the teachers who staff these schools, play an integral part in shaping the future. Marcus Sesin ’13, a recipient of a 2011 Emerson Summer Grant, is studying the recent changes in tenure acquisition procedures in NYC public schools. Through interviews and research, Sesin hopes to understand the effect of the new procedures on teachers.
Until recently, teachers in New York City public schools received tenure automatically, and there was no additional work on the part of the instructors or school principals for teachers to receive tenure. However, the process has been altered to the point where Sesin calls it “moderately rigorous.” Now, school principals must explain in a few paragraphs, and teachers must put together a portfolio that demonstrates why each teacher deserves tenure. Among the materials that teachers submit are lesson plans that incorporate core curriculum standards and examples of how the teacher helps the school outside the classroom.
Four years ago, 99 percent of teachers that were up for tenure received it. This year, the Department of Education approved 58 percent of tenure applications, according to a recent New York Post article. Sesin’s goal is to investigate what teachers think of these changes.
After gathering background information about tenure Sesin conducted interviews with school teachers and administrators. Sesin is focusing on the Academy of American Studies, which he attended for two years. He’s now working to organize these interviews into a coherent collection of his findings. So far, Sesin’s results indicate that tenure meant little to teachers before the change in procedure. Prior to starting his research, he had expected teachers to be very opinionated on the subject.
However, he has found that they cared much more about the topic of parent involvement in classes and class sizes. He believes this is a testament to their dedication to their work. Sesin has found that now, teachers place a much greater emphasis on tenure and it is a more significant aspect of their jobs. He hopes that his research will show how teachers’ opinions have changed and how their focus has shifted now that it is significantly harder to obtain tenure.
Sesin’s interest in the project stems from his goal of working in education, and he hopes to add an education minor to his sociology major. His mother works as a school principal in a New York City public school, which adds to his interest in the project. At Hamilton, Sesin plays for the men’s rugby team and he follows football and baseball.
Tenure plays an important role in public schools because once a teacher has tenure, it is very difficult to have him or her removed from the position. For this reason, the changes in tenure procedure could have a significant impact on public classrooms. The effect of the change on teachers has yet to be fully seen, and Sesin is helping to uncover a piece of this important development.
Marcus Sesin is a graduate of the Pomfret School ( Conn.).