The judge has ruled. Teacher “tenure” in California violates students’ rights. The latest chapter in the “blame the teachers” script has ended (pending appeal).
WHAT IS TENURE
Simply stated, teacher tenure for K-12 teachers in the U.S. is due process. Teachers cannot be fired unless there is a reason. The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that no state shall
deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law
Due process for educators is similar. If you want to fire a teacher you need a reason. The process for evaluating teachers and getting rid of bad teachers is negotiated with school boards. Where state law provides for due process, there is usually impartial arbitration when a teacher is accused of being incompetent. The responsibility for keeping high quality people in a school system’s classrooms falls equally on the School Board, Administration, and teachers…not just the teachers. Parents and students must also be held accountable for doing what’s necessary to help children succeed.
Critics of due process claim that few teachers are ever fired, however, many teachers quit rather than subject themselves to firing, or leave the field before they are entitled to due process.
…between 40 and 50 percent of teachers will leave the classroom within their first five years (that includes the nine and a half percent that leave before the end of their first year.) Certainly, all professions have turnover, and some shuffling out the door is good for bringing in young blood and fresh faces. But, turnover in teaching is about four percent higher than other professions. [emphasis added]
Other critics may ask why do teachers deserve job protections that others don’t get? The answer is that others deserve it too. No one deserves to be fired for spurious reasons. Everyone should have the chance to defend their job performance when questioned.
The supposed inability of California schools to “fire bad teachers” has been blamed for low achievement which is caused by poverty, lack of funding and a general lack of support for public education (including cuts of $18 billion since 2009).
Apparently, according to the lawsuit,
- …teachers are to blame for the large numbers of less experienced teachers in high poverty schools.
- …teachers are responsible for the fact that a large number of teachers in high poverty secondary schools aren’t licensed in the area they’re teaching.
- …it’s the fault of teachers’ due process that less money is spent on high poverty students and that student/teacher ratios are less favorable in high poverty schools.
- …it’s the fault of teachers’ due process that the effects of poverty (student health care, food insecurity, environmental pollutants), have an impact on student achievement.
- …teachers were to blame for the teacher tenure law providing a shortened period for permanent status and due process.
- …teachers are to blame for cutting $18 billion from the state school budgets since 2009 which means that in order to save money school districts ought to be able to fire experienced/expensive teachers at will.
- …due process is too difficult a concept for politicians and administrators to deal with and administrators are neither capable nor responsible for providing proof that a teacher might not be competent.
- …school boards in California have no say in the negotiation of teacher contracts.
- …it’s just a coincidence that David Welch, the billionaire who, along with Eli Broad, funded the legal challenge, and his group Students Matter, have connections with the New School Venture Fund, Michelle Rhee and Students First, Democrats for Education Reform, and Parent Revolution.
- …Secretary of
EducationPrivatization, Arne Duncan doesn’t understand the concept of due process and how it relates to “fair.”
Duncan claims that, if upheld on appeal, the legal ruling
…will bring to California “a new framework for the teaching profession that protects students’ rights to equal educational opportunities while providing teachers the support, respect and rewarding careers they deserve.”
What’s that? The fact that teachers will no longer have job protections and due process provides them with “support” and “respect?”
Peter Greene responded to this in Arne Tells Teachers To Go To Hell (Again)…
Yes, the destruction of job protections will totally show teachers that they are supported and valued. But we’re salivating now, because we can create a new framework, one that doesn’t involve teaching as a career, or teachers’ unions as a political force, or teachers as people who have a voice, or even stick around schools long enough to become a problem.
Professional educators provide students with high quality education — we know this because wealthy “reformers” make sure that schools for their children are filled with highly qualified, well-trained professionals. In high poverty schools, however, educators alone can’t overcome the effects of societal neglect. Nearly one-fourth of America’s children live in poverty which has the single, largest affect on student achievement, yet the billionaires’ battle is against teachers…not politicians.
When will politicians and their billionaire handlers accept responsibility for their part in the education of our children? Will removing all job protections from teachers have an impact on the number of people choosing education as a career…or the quality of people who choose education? Will high achieving college students with lots of options choose a relatively low paying job in education when there are no protections? Are “reformers” so hateful that they are willing to destroy America’s public education system just to punish teachers and their unions?
Will destroying the profession of teaching improve poverty levels in the U.S.? Will removing job protections from teachers improve student achievement?
Do we need any other explanation as to why professional educators are leaving the field in droves?
- if you had no job security
- if your job evaluations depended on factors beyond your control
- if you were demonized daily by the media and politicians
- if your professional expertise was ignored because you weren’t a billionaire
- if your private personnel information (valid or invalid) were published in the newspaper
- and if you still had to put in your 50 hours a week just to keep your head above water…
…what would you do?
All who envision a more just, progressive and fair society cannot ignore the battle for our nation’s educational future. Principals fighting for better schools, teachers fighting for better classrooms, students fighting for greater opportunities, parents fighting for a future worthy of their child’s promise: their fight is our fight. We must all join in.