Now this is interesting…… Imagine a profession that held its primary mission to educate children above adult employment. A profession that pretends that there is no standard of excellence, is pretending to be a profession. The model of school as factory floor is inconsistent with its important purpose. This is not the complete package; as “poor instruction” is a major (but not the only) part of the problem….but its a good start! I say that there are too many children in our nation being blocked from their constitutional right to a decent life, liberty and the pursuit of their dreams and happiness!
LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled Tuesday that teacher tenure laws deprive students of their constitutional right to an education, a decision that hands teachers’ unions a major defeat in a landmark case that overturns several California laws that govern the way teachers are hired and fired.
“Substantial evidence presented makes it clear to this court that the challenged statutes disproportionately affect poor and/or minority students,” Judge Rolf M. Treu wrote in the ruling. “The evidence is compelling. Indeed, it shocks the conscience.”
The ruling, which declared the laws governing how teachers are hired and fired in California to be unconstitutional, is likely to set off a slew of legal fights here and in other states, where many education reform advocates are eager to change similar laws. The ruling brings a close to the first chapter of the case, Vergara v. California, but both sides have made it clear that they plan to appeal any decision that goes against them to the State Supreme Court.
The plaintiffs argued that California’s current laws made it impossible to get rid of low-performing and incompetent teachers, who were disproportionately assigned to schools filled with poor students. The result, they insisted, amounted to a violation of students’ constitutional rights to an education.
But lawyers for the states and teachers’ unions said that overturning such laws would erode necessary protections that stop school administrators from making unfair personnel decisions. They also argued that the vast majority of teachers in the state’s schools are competent and providing students with all the necessary tools to learn. More important factors than teachers, they argued, are social and economic inequalities as well as the funding levels of public schools.
Observers on both sides expect the case to generate dozens more like it in cities and states around the country. David Welch, a Silicon Valley technology magnate who financed the organization that is largely responsible for bringing the Vergara case to court — Students Matter — has indicated that his group is open to funding other similar legal fights, particularly in states with powerful teachers’ unions where legislatures have defeated attempts to change teacher tenure laws.
In his ruling, Judge Treu added his voice to the political debate that has divided educators for years. School superintendents in large cities across the country — including Los Angeles, New York and Washington — have railed against laws that essentially grant teachers permanent employment status. They say such job protections are harmful to students and are merely an anachronism. Three states and the District of Columbia have eliminated tenure, but similar efforts have repeatedly failed elsewhere, including California.
Under state law here, teachers are eligible for tenure after 18 months, and layoffs must be determined by seniority — a process known as “last in, first out.” Administrators seeking to dismiss a teacher they deem incompetent must follow a complicated procedure that typically drags on for months, if not years.
Raj Chetty, a Harvard economist, testified in the trial that California students who miss out on a good education lose millions of dollars in potential earnings over the course of their lives. But lawyers for the state and unions dismissed the argument, saying that the problems in the state’s public schools had little or nothing to do with teacher rules.
-Jennifer Medina 6/10/14