Last updated on: 9/23/2014 | Author:

Jesse Rothstein, PhD, MPP Biography

Associate Professor of Public Policy and Economics at University of California at Berkeley
Pro to the question "Should Teachers Get Tenure?"

“[E]liminating tenure will do little to address the real barriers to effective teaching in impoverished schools, and may even make them worse…

First, firing bad teachers actually makes it harder to recruit new good ones, since new teachers don’t know which type they will be. That risk must be offset with higher salaries — but that in turn could force increases in class size that themselves harm student achievement.

Second, while it might seem better to wait on granting tenure, early decisions — not in the first year, but soon after — actually improve student achievement. That’s partly because stable faculties are better for students, but also because an attentive district knows a great deal about which teachers are good and bad after just two years, and waiting longer provides little additional information.

Finally, the freedom to fire experienced teachers is valuable only when dismissal rates are very high, say, 40 percent or more. And yet such rates come with costs: The risk of firing good teachers is high, and the impact on a school’s culture is detrimental to learning.

In short, while the notion of ‘clearing the stables’ of bad teachers seems attractive, it is almost impossible to get right in practice. No conceivable system can eliminate all ‘grossly ineffective’ teachers, and efforts aimed at doing so can do more harm than good.”

“Taking on Teacher Tenure Backfires,”, June 12, 2014

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Fellow, National Education Policy Center at University of Colorado, 2013-present
  • Executive Committee Member, University of California at Berkeley and University of California at San Francisco Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholars in Health Policy Research Program, 2012-present
  • Associate Editor, Industrial Relations, 2012-present
  • Technical Review Committee Member, Bureau of Labor Statistics National Longitudinal Surveys Committee, 2012-present
  • Editorial Board Member, American Economic Review, 2011-present
  • Associate Professor of Economics, University of California at Berkeley, 2010-present
  • Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research, 2010-present
  • Associate Professor of Public Policy, Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California at Berkeley, 2009-present
  • Acting Director, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at University of California at Berkeley, 2013
  • Senior Economist, Council of Economic Advisers, Executive Office of the President, 2009-2010
  • Technical Review Panel Member, National Center for Education Statistics High School Longitudinal Study, 2009-2010
  • Faculty Research Fellow, National Bureau of Economic Research, 2004-2009
  • Chief Economist, US Department of Labor, 2009
  • Assistant Professor of Economics and Public Affairs, Princeton University, 2003-2009
  • Researcher, Economic Policy Institute, 1997-1998
  • PhD, Economics, University of California at Berkeley, 2003
  • MPP, University of California at Berkeley, 2003
  • AB, Mathematics, magna cum laude, Harvard University, 1995
  • Born Sep. 29, 1974 in Denver, CO
  • Expert Witness for the defense in State Supreme Court case Vergara v. California
  • Lead Organizer, All-California Labor Economics Conference, Berkeley, 2014
  • John T. Dunlop Outstanding Scholar, Labor and Employment Relations
    Association, 2011

  • Advisory Committee, Tipping Point Foundation, 2010
  • External Advisory Council, Chicago Public Education Fund, 2009-2011
  • Jacob Viner University Preceptorship, Princeton University, 2006-2009
  • Nicholas Fellow, Center for Economic Policy Studies, Princeton University, 2006-2007
  • Recipient, Public Policy Research Prize, University of California at Berkeley Department of Economics, 2003
  • Graduate Research Fellow, National Science Foundation, 2000-2003
  • Graduate Fellow, Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics, University of California at Berkeley, 2002-2003
  • Departmental Fellowship, Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California at Berkeley, 1998-1999
Quoted in:
Pro & Con Quotes: Should Teachers Get Tenure?