Last updated on: 6/17/2011 | Author:

Timothy Knowles, PhD Biography

Director of the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute
Con to the question "Should Teachers Get Tenure?"

“First, teachers have a greater impact on student learning than any other school-based factor. Second, we will not produce excellent schools without eliminating laws and practices that guarantee teachers – regardless of their performance – jobs for life.

Nearly everyone in public education has a story that illustrates the Kafkaesque process of trying to remove a tenured teacher. Mine involves a teacher in Boston who napped each day in the back of the room while students copied from the board. Despite repeated efforts, the district failed to fire him.

The time has come to eliminate tenure. We are facing monumental challenges in our quest to provide all students with an education that will prepare them to compete in a globalized economy. By removing one of the main sources of friction between labor and management, we can focus on the substantive issues: training, evaluating and rewarding teachers to make teaching a true profession.”

“The Trouble with Teacher Tenure,” Wall Street Journal, June 18, 2010

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Director, University of Chicago Urban Education Institute
  • John Dewey Clinical Professor, Committee on Education, University of Chicago
  • Recipient, Harvard Alumni Council Award for Outstanding Contribution to Education, 2011
  • Member, Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel’s education transition team, 2011
  • Judge, Digital Media and Learning, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Grant, 2008
  • Member, Steering Committee, University of Chicago Urban Teacher Education Program
  • Former Deputy Superintendent, Boston Public Schools
  • Former Co-director, Boston Annenberg Challenge
  • Founding Director, Teach for America in New York
  • Founder, Boston Leadership Academy
  • Founder, Boston Teacher Residency
  • Former Teacher of African History in Botswana
  • Former Founding Director, Kindergarten-8th grade school in Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York City
  • PhD, Administration, Planning, and Social Policy, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University, 2002
  • MA, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University, 1996
  • BA, Anthropology and African History, Oberlin College
  • Runs four charter school campuses on Chicago’s South Side with 1600 students that are graduating more than 90% of their students with 95-98% of those students attending college
Quoted in:
Pro & Con Quotes: Should Teachers Get Tenure?