23 August 2016

Teacher Tenure Survives is California

The California State Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal on the Vergara case, where a Silicon Valley venture capitalist tried to eliminate teacher tenure.  

It's not surprising.  Their original opinion by  Los Angeles Superior Court judge Rolf Treu was well nigh incoherent, and the appellant court vacated it pretty much as soon as it hit their desk:
Over four years ago — May 2012 — a group of nine public school students filed a lawsuit, Vergara v. California, challenging five laws that govern how teachers can be fired in California, including the teacher tenure law and the "last in, first out" law that says teacher layoffs must be done in reverse order of seniority.

The suit was paid for by the nonprofit Students Matter, founded (and largely funded) by telecom millionaire David Welch.

The plaintiffs argued that the laws allowed "grossly ineffective" teachers to keep their jobs, and violated the California Constitution by having a disproportionate effect on poor and minority students. Judge Rolf Treu agreed. In his August 2014 decision, Treu wrote, "The evidence is compelling. Indeed, it shocks the conscience."

But in April of this year, the court of appeals overturned the decision. The three-judge panel ruled that it was up to the individual schools and school districts to assign teachers.

"Critically, plaintiffs failed to show that the statutes themselves make any certain group of students more likely to be taught by ineffective teachers than any other group of students," the court wrote. "The court’s job is merely to determine whether the statutes are constitutional, not if they are 'a good idea.'"
That last bit is legalese from the appellate court for, "What the f%$# are you smoking?"

From what I've seen, I tend to agree with the basic thesis that teacher tenure in needs some reforms, but people like Welch are looking at privatizing schools (charters) and damaging labor unions, and any consideration of education is either deception or self delusion.

As an aside, I would note that tenure in public school teaching is an artifact of a broken management system, where principals are given free reign to be arbitrary and capricious, with very little in the way of other meaningful protections.


Post a Comment