Judge Rejects Teacher Tenure for California


NY Times:

Judge Rejects Teacher Tenure for California

LOS ANGELES — A California judge ruled Tuesday that teacher tenure laws deprived students of their right to an education under the State Constitution and violated their civil rights. The decision hands teachers’ unions a major defeat in a landmark case, one that could radically alter how California teachers are hired and fired and prompt challenges to tenure laws in other states.

“Substantial evidence presented makes it clear to this court that the challenged statutes disproportionately affect poor and/or minority students,” Judge Rolf M. Treu of Los Angeles Superior Court wrote in the ruling. “The evidence is compelling. Indeed, it shocks the conscience.”

The decision, which was enthusiastically endorsed by Education Secretary Arne Duncan, brings a close to the first chapter of the case, Vergara v. California, in which a group of student plaintiffs backed by a Silicon Valley millionaire argued that state tenure laws had deprived them of a decent education by leaving bad teachers in place.



I am a big supporter of organized labor in general. I do see that, in children’s education, unions have not always served the best purpose.


Will this truly make for better education, or might it be used to let go of higher paid, more experienced teachers in favor of new, cheaper ones? Will this raise the bar and ensure we have the very best teachers for our kids, or is this just more cost-cutting race to the bottom?


“Higher paid” and having been there a long time doesn’t always mean “good at your job”. Especially in a system where you can be terrible at your job and still get raises and seniority.

Also “senior” doesn’t mean “more experienced”. My mom, with 25+ years of teaching experience and excellent performance lost her job to a poorly performing teacher with 2 years experience because during a school consolidation the 2 year teacher ended up having more “seniority” (my mom lost her seniority as her school was technically “closed” or something).


I hear what you’re saying, and understand how the old system of tenure has been abused. If tenure leads to complacency, it does not serve the students. Time will tell if this new move will lead to better classrooms, or to new and different stories of injustice like the one you told about your mom. I hope good comes from this.


The other thing to remember is that none of the reasons that tenure exists at the higher education level exist in grade school.

As the child and brother of three educators (two HS, one college), I could tell horror stories about the education system. Everything from token interviews for teachers because the job was always going to a board member’s kid, to bribery, to senile teachers, to teachers and admin sleeping with students. Of course, maybe Northeastern PA isn’t like everywhere.

My favorite was the school board member who when there was a job opening would throw all the resumes she got on the floor and let her toddler pick 5. She then picked the “best” out of those five to recommend. She felt this system was good enough to talk to the local paper about. I’m not sure if that was better or worse than if she’d just admitted to taking bribes.


Yes, there are horror stories no one can deny. I just hope the new horror story will not be, “and just before my mom the teacher reached eligibility for a pension, the board declared her ‘low performing’ and laid her off.”


My mom doesn’t have a pension, just a regular ol’ retirement account.

And if I was in California I sure wouldn’t be betting on CalSTRS having that pension either.


You mean there really are some smart judges in CA.:smiley: You can bet this will be challenged.


Judges can never make education equal for everyone. Only parents can give kids a fighting chance.


Who knew?:stuck_out_tongue: There’s one on the CA Supreme Court too. She basically said the right to life was the foundation of all other rights during oral arguments in the prop 8 cases. It didn’t go over so well with the other judges.


Quite correct.

The problem here is that the unions are government unions and not bound by the free market.

Even FDR knew that was a mistake.


The writing’s on the wall that the state is running out of time and money.


as others have said, simply more experienced doesn’t necessarily mean better. OTOH, principles will definitely be tempted to let more expensive teachers go for reasons that involve more than money. It also involves philosophy and pedagogy.
Older teachers are more willing to challenge the newer more progressive teaching methods, which are frankly the same old progressive methods that have failed in the past, dressed up in a new package. For example, “Balance Literacy” is not much more than “whole language” with lip service paid to the use of phonics. I know. I am required to use “Balanced Literacy” as a classroom practice.
Younger teachers, OTOH, are more easily controlled and manipulated to follow the progressive methods.
Without some form of job protection, progressive administrators will have a much easier time ridding themselves of those teachers who oppose their methods, regardless of their level of success. IOW, they will have an easier time implementing the progressive definition of tolerance: we will tolerate your view, so long as it agrees with ours.



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