California Teachers Dealt Seriously Blow to Tenure-Based System

June 13, 2014 at 8:53 AM

Where is concern for students?

Where is concern for students?

When we lived in California, I taught in the public school system. After two years of “probationary” teaching, I was granted full tenure. What this essentially meant is that it became nearly impossible to fire me unless there was obvious (and I mean obvious) malpractice or illegal activity.

To fire a tenured teacher will cost a school district at least $50,000 because everything needs to be documented over time. A teacher can sit at her/his desk all day and essentially not teach and there is very little recourse the district has in that situation. What often becomes routine in cases where a teacher is simply terrible is to pass them around to other schools. Sometimes, the district will transfer that teacher every one or two years trying to make it so untenable for the teacher that they will voluntarily quit or move to another district where they will have to begin the process of earning tenure all over again.

During the time I taught in public schools (roughly 10 years), I saw all types of teachers from excellent to crappy and everything in the middle. It was an eye-opening experience to say the least. I saw one male teacher who simply used lesson plans that were at least 12 years old with each new class. He changed nothing. It didn’t matter the type of student he had. He taught the same way using the same materials. Do you know how easy his life was because of that?

But what about the students, you might ask? A very fair question. Unfortunately, for far too many teachers (and the unions that support them), it’s really not about the students at all. It’s only about the teachers. End of story.

Name one other business that essentially rewards employees with some type of guaranteed employment after two years? Aren’t most jobs and the ability to remain in those jobs based on quality of performance? A person who works at a corporation maintains their employed status because they perform well and are given good to great reviews, not because they’ve simply made it through a few years of employment and because of that alone are given a permanent status.

Teacher’s unions would have us believe (I know, because I was a member of two teacher’s unions) that the job of the teacher is so difficult and made even more difficult by the “unknown” (students) that a teacher should never be graded on how well students in their classroom perform. That’s unfair, we were told. Is it?

While I fully realize that there are certain things that teachers have little to no control over, the fact remains that if the preponderance of students the teacher teaches end up not performing well, then at least some fault must be laid at the feet of the educator. Teachers do not want that responsibility though. They should not be teachers then.

Recently, due to a lawsuit, a judge ruled that the current tenure-based system in California is unconstitutional. In fact, the judge who ruled over the case wound up providing a scathing assessment of the tenure-based system in California’s schools. Regarding what is considered the “permanent employment statute,” the court ruled…

The Permanent Employment Statute does not provide nearly enough time for an informed decision to be made regarding … tenure….

As a result, teachers are being [granted tenure] who would not have been had more time been provided for the process….

This court finds that both students and teachers are unfairly, unnecessarily, and for no legally cognizable reason (let alone a compelling one), disadvantaged by the current Permanent Employment Statute….

[This Court] finds the Permanent Employment statute unconstitutional under the equal protection clause of the Constitution of California.  

With respect to the near impossibility of firing incompetent teachers, Judge Rolf Treu’s ruling was equally harsh.

The evidence this Court heard was that it could take anywhere from two to almost ten years and cost $50,000 to $450,000 or more to bring these cases to conclusion under the Dismissal Statutes….

Given these facts, grossly ineffective teachers are being left in the classroom because school officials do not wish to go through the time and expense to investigate and prosecute these cases.

Can you believe it costs the district from $50,000 up to $450,000 to get rid of ONE ineffective teacher? Why is that? It is due to the power of the teacher’s unions and is merely proof that the unions have no real concern for the students (though they’ll say they do). Their “clients” are the educators and that’s who they protect. These same union rules work across the board for many careers, including police officers.

The other issue at stake is the “first in, last out” rule, which simply means that the first hired teacher is the last one let go in the case of layoffs. This is an absurd rule. It is unfair and inequitable because it does not even consider the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the teacher. Judge Treu’s ruling was just as clear and evocative.

This statute contains no exception or waiver based on teacher effectiveness. The last-hired teacher is the statutorily-mandated first-fired … when lay-offs occur….

The logic of this position is unfathomable….

[The Court] thus finds the LIFO statute unconstitutional.

Who says that some things cannot be done correctly in California?

It must be understood that I fully and firmly believe that unions in this country began as a very good thing. Workers who literally slaved away for the likes of Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Carnegie, and other oligarchs in the early and growing days of America had absolutely no protection from management/owners. Management could fire, hire, increase or reduce hours, make life miserable for workers without impunity and this was often the case. Steel workers in Carnegie’s steel mills often died on the job because of grueling work conditions. Oh, but later in life, Carnegie became a philanthropist. Wonder if that was due in part to the guilt of knowing how many workers died under his employ? Nah…

Unions arose (even though they were seen as “communistic”) due to a desperate need for workers to be treated fairly. However, over time, unions became exactly what management had been. They became corrupted with power and didn’t care about fairness to the company, but only to the workers, whom they argued were the company.

Remember Hostess? Unions put that company out of business. Fortunately, they came back and this time, most likely without unions. In Atlanta, there was a huge FORD facility that until a few years ago, was a hulk of a set of buildings. There they sat, empty, ghostly, reminding us that Ford cars used to be manufactured there. Now, because unions only care about their workers and not necessarily in even keeping the companies that employ the union workers alive, Ford ceased production at that plant. Not long ago, it was completely knocked down.

Not far away is an empty GM plant that went through the same process. Workers who got $30/hour or more to put in a few bolts in a specific spot on a car at the assembly line became unemployed. Is that the goal? The union bosses and management still have their jobs though, don’t they? They still have large expense accounts, don’t they? What began as a good thing has become as corrupt and mismanaged as management used to be.

No one should be given the right to have a permanent job based on less than two years of work. California’s tenure-based system has been ruled again. The ruling is set to become permanent in a few weeks, but there will likely be appeals to California’s Supreme Court. However, once the rulings become permanent, lawyers from several other states are already set to file similar lawsuits. The days of being protected due to “tenure” may well be coming to an end.

Entry filed under: David Rockefeller, Life in America.

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