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Education The Courts

Teacher Tenure Laws Ruled Unconstitutional In California 519

Posted by Soulskill
from the maybe-we-could-start-paying-teachers-well-instead dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Tenure laws one of the most controversial aspects of education reform, and now the tide seems to be turning against them. A California judge has handed down a ruling that such laws are unconstitutional, depriving students of an education by sometimes securing positions held by bad teachers. The judge said, "Substantial evidence presented makes it clear to this court that the challenged statutes disproportionately affect poor and/or minority students. The evidence is compelling. Indeed, it shocks the conscience." The plaintiff's case was that "California's current laws make it impossible to get rid of the system's numerous low-performing and incompetent teachers; that seniority rules requiring the newest teachers to be laid off first were harmful; and that granting tenure to teachers after only two years on the job was farcical, offering far too little time for a fair assessment of their skills." This is a precedent-setting case, and there will likely be many similar cases around the country as tenure is challenged with this new ammunition."
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Teacher Tenure Laws Ruled Unconstitutional In California

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  • by wannabe (90895) on Tuesday June 10, 2014 @10:12PM (#47208403)

    At the college level, tenure is an important consideration for professors. It allows research into areas that are unpopular in a contemporary setting without fearing for employment. It facilitates the free exchange of ideas that are so important in a proper educational setting. However, in a public school at the primary or secondary level, what new and contentious ideas are expressed? What fear do teachers have in parroting their lessons to the students? Lessons are handed down from on high and the teachers are responsible to ensure students are proficient (in theory). So why is it that we need public school teachers to have tenured positions?

    I am open to thoughts on this subject, but based on what I know right now, providing high school teachers with tenure is a big load of crap. It keeps bad teachers in place and is simply one more outdated benefit that society can no longer afford. When high school teachers are working on original research and disseminating their results to students, then tenure is justified. Until then, it's just one more barrier to improvement.

  • Re:You make it... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 10, 2014 @10:13PM (#47208405)

    Oh, it's a bad thing, depending on which way you look at it. For union busters this means you can finally sacrifice the weak and infirm on the altar of efficiency. For education activists this means teachers will be more concerned with their job security than ever before, creating a chilling effect in alternative curricula and teaching styles that would reach kids the system would otherwise fail.

    In other words, the education system is about to get a whole lot more one-size-fits-all in California.

  • Re:Good (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 10, 2014 @10:14PM (#47208415)

    I mostly agree, but OTOH, some subjects do deal with touchy topics in highschool. History is a good example, it wasn't until I got to college and took a history class when I learned just how much of what I was taught was outright wrong. But, it was popular to paint slavery and WWII in a specific light even though the reality was very different. Nobody bothered to talk about the free blacks that lived in the South prior to the civil war. And the history teachers never bothered to mention the Germans and Italians that were in American concentration camps alongside the Japanese.

    You're right that tenure doesn't make any real sense in the primary or secondary systems, but that's not to say that it's a good idea to completely chuck it.

  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Tuesday June 10, 2014 @11:25PM (#47208767) Journal

    pretty sweet to be in a politically connected union and have no ambitions other than riding your current job into a fully-paid retirement at age 55.

    This used to be called "middle class."
    You're so far divorced from the way things used to be, that now it's some kind of offense for people to retire while they still have their health.

    Books have been written on the destruction of the American pension system.
    The "how" varies from decade to decade, but it's not a pretty story, no matter which period of time you want to look at.

  • Re:You make it... (Score:5, Informative)

    by physicsphairy (720718) on Tuesday June 10, 2014 @11:30PM (#47208797) Homepage

    The word "tenure" itself was based on an expectation that it would take ten years to get there.

    It actually stems from the Latin word tenere meaning to hold, as in tenant, tenacity, etc. It's not etymologically related to the number ten.

  • Re:You make it... (Score:5, Informative)

    by nbauman (624611) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @01:40AM (#47209443) Homepage Journal

    You narrative that children are getting cheated out of an education because of tenure is a complete myth.

    Right. Judge Treu either misunderstood and misquoted, or deliberately lied, about the teachers' expert testimony.

    Treu wrote that the teachers' expert, David Berliner, testified that 1-3% of teachers in California are "grossly ineffective." Berliner actually said that no more than 1-3% gave him "cause for concern."

    The "economic study" Treu relied upon was one study -- a white paper that wasn't peer reviewed.

    http://www.eiaonline.com/inter... [eiaonline.com]
    Judge Rules in Favor of Vergara Thanks to David Berliner?!
    Mike Antonucci - Jun 10, 14
    Despite his efforts, it might have been better for the defendants if Dr. Berliner had stayed home. Judge Treu’s decision contains this paragraph:
    There is also no dispute that there are a significant number of grossly ineffective teachers currently active in California classrooms. Dr. Berliner, an expert called by State Defendants, testified that 1-3% of teachers in California are grossly ineffective.

    David Berliner says:
    June 10, 2014 at 15:56
    You and the judge misquote me. I said during deposition That I had never seen a “grossly ineffective” teacher. I said I estimated that the number of poor teachers I’d like to get rid probably is no more than 1-3 percent. The questioning i got was about this statement in TCRECORD:
    “There does seem to be a small percentage of teachers who show consistency no matter what classroom and school compositions they deal with. Those few teachers who have strong and consistent positive effects on student outcomes, we should learn from and reward. And, those few teachers who have strong negative effects on student outcomes need to be helped or removed from classrooms. But the fundamental message from the research is that the percentage of such year-to-year, class-to-class, and school-to-school effective and ineffective teachers appears to be much smaller than is thought to be the case. When the class is the unit of analysis, and student growth is the measure we use to judge teacher effectiveness, what we find is a great deal of adequacy, competency, and adeptness by teachers in response to the complexity of the classroom. And, we see much less of the extraordinarily great and horribly bad teachers of political and media myth. The thousands of welfare queens that Ronald Reagan railed against and the thousands of disability cheats that have contemporary Republicans in such a snit may be like the thousands of terrible teachers in our public schools—more hype than it is reality.”
    When asked what percent might actually show up as cause for concern regularly, I said no more than 1-3%. I said nothing about 1-3% being grossly inadequate.

  • Re:You make it... (Score:5, Informative)

    by nbauman (624611) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @02:15AM (#47209593) Homepage Journal

    Are you talking about the children or the teachers?

    Yes.

    To clarify that, most of the charter schools routinely expel students who have any problems, either academic or behavioral.

    It's the Pareto principle: 90% of the students are easy to teach; 10% of them are difficult. The difficult 10% cost the school as much as the easy 90%. That includes for example handicapped kids, or kids whose parents speak a foreign language, or kids who are having trouble with math, or English, or any other subject. And yes, there are some kids having disciplinary or behavioral problems.

    The reason public schools are so expensive is that they have to take all students. The reason charter schools are cheaper is that they can pass the difficult kids on to the public schools.

    Diane Ravitch, the historian of education, described all this in an article about Eva Moskowitz' charter schools. Moskowitz' students do very well on the tests, because if any of their students is having trouble, she expels them. And they go to the public schools.

  • Re:You make it... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Maxwell (13985) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @08:56AM (#47211285) Homepage

    Try firing a unionized teacher. You'll learn all about 'due process'...

    I'll try to keep posting this whenever you bring up "due Process" as if the ONLY recourse teachers have is tenure. They have all the same due process recourse everyone else has, for every other job, plus they are heavily unionized to boot.

He keeps differentiating, flying off on a tangent.

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