A California judge ruled today that current tenure statutes for teachers deprive students of their right to an education due to evidence so compelling that “it shocks the conscience.” This ruling will be submitted for further appellate review.
Furthermore, he specifically stated that judges should focus solely on the law when making a decision, and ignore politics and personal opinion. How wonderfully adroit.
That this Court’s decision will and should result in political discourse is beyond question, but such consequence cannot and does not detract from its obligation to consider only the evidence and law in making its decision.
At issue in the lawsuit, filed by nine public school students, are statutes of the CA Education Code that violate the state’s constitution by resulting in “grossly ineffective teachers obtaining and retaining permanent employment.”
In other words, the functional impossibility of firing “grossly ineffective” teachers and the resultant letting-go of “competent” ones, especially in low-performing schools, kept kids from getting the quality of education to which they are entitled.
The lawsuit was vigorously opposed by the California teachers’ unions. Which is a shocking revelation in-and-of-itself, to be sure. The head of the L.A. teachers union said this in response:
This decision today is an attack on teachers, which is a socially acceptable way to attack children. You attack teacher and student rights.
So, a clear statement that children are being substantially harmed by current rules, is actually an attack against those very children? One wonders what planet teachers’ union leaders originate from and how reality is perceived of on that sad, alien world. Because it’s certainly different down here on earth.
The particular items at issue:
1. Permanent Employment Statute – 2 years is not sufficient time to establish sufficient competence. Most states have 3 to 5 year periods and 4 states have no tenure system at all.
2. Dismissal Statutes – it is almost impossible to fire “grossly ineffective” teachers once they’ve received tenure, so most districts do not even try.
3. Last-In, First Out – the newest teachers get let go first, regardless of gifting or performance.
The sixteen pages of the decision, with its unyielding indictment of the current tenure rules on every page, is stunning in its evisceration of the status quo. No wonder the unions are outraged. The status quo is them.