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Judge denies motion to dismiss lawsuit challenging teacher job protections


Nine students and their families are suing the state, saying teacher job protection laws protect bad teachers and violate students' right to quality education. Credit: EdSource file photo

Nine students and their families are suing the state, saying teacher job protection laws protect bad teachers and violate rights to a quality education. Credit: EdSource file

With the end of intermission, there will now be a second act to the state’s education trial of the year, Vergara vs California, in which nine students are challenging the constitutionality of laws governing teachers’ job protections.

On Tuesday, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu rejected a motion to dismiss the case and ordered a resumption of the trial on the lawsuit challenging laws governing the hiring, firing and laying off of teachers. A Silicon Valley entrepreneur, filing suit on behalf of Beatriz Vergara, a Los Angeles high school student, and eight other public school students, asserts the laws protect the worst-performing teachers, who then are disproportionately assigned to low-income, minority children.

With little comment, Treu denied a request by attorneys for the state and the state’s two teachers unions asking him to dismiss the case on the grounds that, after presenting a month’s worth of evidence, the plaintiffs had failed to make their case. Treu listened to arguments Tuesday by attorneys for both sides before ordering them back to work; the trial is expected to last several months.

“The court finds there is sufficient evidence, credible evidence, to move forward with a trial,” Treu said.

Case continues

His decision, not unexpected, doesn’t indicate he is leaning one way or another, only that he wants to hear the defense’s side, which lawyers for the Attorney General’s Office, the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers will present in coming weeks.

The lawsuit was filed by Students Matter, a nonprofit created by business executive David Welch. It asserts that the laws – granting “tenure” or due process rights to teachers after two years on the job, laying out procedures for dismissal and requiring layoffs based on seniority – operate to deny poor, minority children their constitutionally guaranteed right to an equal opportunity for an education.

During a month of testimony before plaintiffs rested their case last month, a high-profile team of lawyers led by Theodore Olson and Theodore Boutrous of the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher presented 20 witnesses. They included Raj Chetty, an economics professor at Harvard, whose research showed that grossly ineffective teachers – roughly 5 percent of teachers – cause “irreparable harm” to students, lowering their odds of graduating and getting into a good college, with the result that they will earn less and save less for retirement over their lifetimes.

Los Angeles Unified Superintendent John Deasy and former Sacramento City Unified Superintendent Jonathan Raymond testified that the time and great expense of firing bad teachers, caused by onerous dismissal laws, led to triage, in which some bad teachers remained on the job.

A “last-in, first-out” law requiring, for the most part, layoffs by seniority, led to laying off great teachers who’d be protected, were layoffs done on the basis of effectiveness, not longevity. Because less experienced teachers predominate in high-poverty schools, those schools are two-thirds more likely to have a teacher laid off than low-poverty schools, said Arun Ramanathan, executive director of Education Trust-West, which advocates for poor children. Larissa Adam, a principal from Oakland, testified that the ineffective veteran teachers whom the district transferred to her high-poverty school after layoffs of newer teachers contributed to a disastrous decline in student achievement.

The statutes have a “real and appreciable impact on students’ fundamental right to education” and “directly cause school administrators to make vastly different teacher employment decisions than they would otherwise make if they were permitted to act in the best interests of students,” the plaintiffs’ attorneys argued in rebuttal to the dismissal motion.

Argument to dismiss

But in the motion to dismiss, Deputy State Attorney General Nimrod Elias argued that the plaintiffs acknowledged that most of the states’ 275,000 teachers are effective and that they failed to show that the laws, as opposed to inept handling of them, caused the hiring and retention of grossly ineffective teachers.

“The reality of ineffective teachers being in inner city schools is not caused by these statutes,” Elias told the judge in arguing for dismissal Tuesday, saying that the plaintiffs had not proven the high legal standards needed to make their case.

The plaintiffs also failed to prove Vergara and the other eight students (only five of whom testified) were disproportionately harmed by grossly ineffective teachers or that they even were taught by them. The students’ “personal views about these teachers were entirely uncorroborated,” the defense attorneys wrote in their motion. There was no evidence that students’ school districts gave these teachers poor evaluations or agreed that they were ineffective, they said. (The defense is expected to call to several teachers cited as ineffective in depositions.)

California is one of a handful of states that grant tenure or due-process rights to probationary teachers after only two years. In most states, tenure occurs after three to five years on the job. While on probation, however, districts can dismiss teachers without having to cite a cause.

In order to make a claim that the laws denied children their constitutionally protected right, the plaintiffs must show disproportionate harm to some students. They failed to show that was the intent of the laws or that the laws caused that impact on the nine students, the motion said.

“There was no evidence that – if the probationary period was longer – these particular teachers would have been denied tenure by their school districts,” the motion said and Elias echoed in his arguments. “There was no evidence that plaintiffs’ school districts ever identified these specific teachers as being ineffective and unsuccessfully sought to dismiss them pursuant to the Dismissal Statutes (or at least decided not to pursue dismissal because of the requirements found in the Dismissal Statutes). And there was no evidence that any plaintiff was actually taught by a grossly ineffective teacher who would have been laid off during a past reduction-in-force if teacher effectiveness could have been considered.”

If the plaintiffs can’t prove a discriminatory intent, with an unequal distribution of bad teachers, and a violation of students’ rights, then defense attorneys only need to establish that lawmakers had a valid reason in passing the laws. And they did, the defense attorneys argued. The three laws provide teachers with job security and protections, creating a stable job market. “Tenure helps recruit and retain teachers,” Jim Finberg, an attorney for the CTA, said in an interview.

In their rebuttal, the plaintiffs’ lawyers dismissed the defense of the tenure, dismissal and layoff laws as “absurd” and said that the standard of proof is not the intent of the laws but their real-world impact on students.

“These (statutes) are violating the constitutional rights to California school children each and every day,” Boutrous told the judge, adding that African American and Latino students are more likely than other students to have teachers in the “bottom 5 percent of teacher effectiveness.”

“Students stuck in classrooms with grossly ineffective teachers are being denied their right to a quality education,” he said.

The 20 witnesses testified to the effects of the laws in districts covering more than 20 percent of districts, and the evidence points to a much wider impact, the plaintiffs’ lawyers wrote. “The unavoidable byproduct of the challenged statutes – as they operate in the real world – is that poor and minority students are disproportionately harmed.”

John Fensterwald covers education policy. Contact him and follow him on Twitter @jfenster. Sign up here for a no-cost online subscription to EdSource Today for reports from the largest education reporting team in California.

Filed under: Evaluations, Pay and Tenure, Teaching

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28 Responses to “Judge denies motion to dismiss lawsuit challenging teacher job protections”

  1. Floyd Thursby said

    on March 19, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    El, if you know you can never be fired, your behavior drops. If you know ratings and performance and ratings matter, it improves. If 12% of teachers in SFUSD are calling in sick the Tuesday before Thanksgiving vs. 7.5% on an average day, clearly 4.5% are lying, if not more as I believe 7.5% is very high as I’ve gone decades without a sick day. Clearly anyone who would let their kids have a sub knowing how much that hurts them when they are healthy and able to work should be fired. That’s just a start. Maybe 10% of teachers now are inadequate, maybe 15. But 5 being fired would probably be enough to get most of the rest to work hard. I believe most teachers work hard anyways. But if you get your kid in a bad teacher’s class, you’ll empathize.

    • navigio replied

      on March 19, 2014 at 3:53 pm

      Oh I get it now. You’re saying were supposed to fire some insignificant percentage of teachers not because they’re ineffective but merely to keep everybody else on their toes. Interesting concept, but I thought this was supposed to be about effective teachers?

  2. Floyd Thursby said

    on March 7, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    Don, you asked me to suggest a system. What system would you suggest? Would testing or value add be no factor? What I think we really need to avoid is a system in which 98% are satisfactory. That’s almost like having no rating system at all. Even the other 2% are almost all satisfactory the next year after a little “training” and “help”.

    • el replied

      on March 7, 2014 at 1:32 pm

      Floyd, what percent of students do you think should have unsatisfactory teachers?

      Remember, that 98% has as a denominator teachers that have elected to stay on, and have been retained by districts, not everyone who has ever taught in a classroom.

      What percentage of the current, say, doctor workforce, would you guess would be rated unsatisfactory? (Remember, Americans are healthier than ever…)

  3. Floyd Thursby said

    on March 5, 2014 at 10:36 pm

    Don, people always say how can you measure effectiveness as if they want you to come up with a way, but what they really want is you to stick your neck out so they can chop it off and keep the status quo. I suspect that is what you are doing as you seem to be a born again status quo supporter now for some reason I can’t really understand. The truth is, the union and teachers themselves would be the best people to create a good system for this, but they don’t want any teachers to be dismissed ever or a tiny number of obvious cases, so instead they challenge others to do so, and no matter what they suggest, they find some study that says it’s not valid.

    I trust principals. Principals hear directly from parents, other teachers and students, and observe the teachers’ attitutdes in meetings, and sometimes directly. I believe principals should give true evaluations, not 98% satisfactory, but maybe a 0-100 ranking. That should be part of it. It’s ridiculous for principals to be part of the union but that is a whole other issue.

    I believe there is some knowledge in value added methodologies if you take into account improvements. There are engineers developing incredibly complex big data/machine learning software algorithms in R and Python in healthcare, financial trading and other areas. I believe you can compare your students’ improvement with other students of similar starting test scores and demographic characteristics. One year or even two may be off, but over 5-10 they tend to average out and they will be quite informative.

    When teachers switch, the hiring school should check references and ask principals about the teacher in detail.

    There are also rating sites for teachers. Students and parents should fill out questionnaires, and this should be a factor.

    There are other ways to do it, but most who ask how it should be done secretly want LIFO forever, and really don’t want another more complex way, they want only seniority, which is probably the worst way to judge teacher effectiveness. Sure, value add is bad, but it’s better than seniority which leads to teachers feeling entitled to their jobs and so accepting of absence and subs that their leader openly boasts of calling in sick when healthy. Things seem bad, until you consider the alternative. Anything would be better than what we have now.

    • navigio replied

      on March 6, 2014 at 5:56 am

      Funny I trust teachers more than principals. I guess each of our opinions was formed as a result of our own experiences. Regardless, you point out some shortcomings of principal behavior. Why not try to address those instead? I think from the accountability perspective the principal’s is the most important position there is. Why should we simply ignore how they perform?

      Btw, I flat out don’t believe you when you say ‘anything’ would be better than what we have now. That is an impossible claim. Please don’t tell me your goal is simply to try random stuff (most fall in the ‘anything’ set) just to see what happens..?

      • Floyd Thursby replied

        on March 6, 2014 at 12:35 pm

        Navgio, principals should be fired too if they fail, becoming a principal should be like becoming an NBA coach, some stay principals, the majority go back to teaching or move on. It shouldn’t be assumed you stay a principal. My point is everyone criticizes every proposal but the goal isn’t a better proposal, it’s blind seniority. It’s hard to respect the criticism if the goal is blind seniority.

        You can never trust someone to judge themselves more than be judged by another, a system. Some teachers are better than others. We all recognize that. So you tell me, besides seniority which has made California one of the worst states in one of the worst nations on education, what would you propose to accurately judge teacher quality?

        We have to make sure it’s not something where 98% get the same grade. It should be like the test scores even if not based on them, where you can see teachers in terms of percentiles and identify the top 10% and the bottom 10%.

      • Floyd Thursby replied

        on March 6, 2014 at 3:56 pm

        Some principals don’t follow through, but you fail to note that the union has passed rules and laws which make it very difficult and costly. I know principals who set out to dismiss a bad teacher and gave up because they can’t afford the budget, easier to appease the teachers and hire an assistant secretary or tutors than spend so much to terminate someone who deserves it. This is what needs to change. There needs to be consequences for calling in sick when not sick, for not doing your best, etc. It can’t be so costly. We need to reduce the cost to dismiss ineffective teachers and make it easy once the principal has decided to do so, and also make sure they can’t go to another school unless references are checked first and they explain why they were fired. I’m not saying no one should ever get a second chance, but now when they apply they’re judged by seniority and don’t have to worry about a bad reference. This should change. Everyone at every job should be thinking, I need to impress my boss, I need that reference.

  4. Gary Ravani said

    on March 5, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    Again, note that the measure being used by Students Matter to determine if a teacher is “grossly ineffective” is Value Added Methodology which has been widely denounced by many experts in the field, notably the National Research Council, as being wildly unreliable. Likewise Raj Chetty’s “research” has been widely debunked. If his assertions were accurate, the differences between students having a high performing teachers and low performing teachers in “life time outcomes” is about the cost of a medium latte and a small cookie a day.

    The somewhat careless talk of how much and how long it takes a district to dismiss a teacher needs to be addressed. It averages “hundreds of thousands of dollars and years.” Really? The discovery process in a trial is interesting. Much information can be revealed. Like if you took the cost and time of a couple of outlier cases that did take years and millions of dollars and “averaged” those times and costs with a “typical” dismissal you might get “years” and ‘hundreds of thousands;” however, if you take the mode (the most frequent appearing number[s]) rather than the mean you could come up with very different numbers. Like $65K and months, for example. Just saying.

    Or you might read the deposition of an attorney involved with districts’ dismissal cases who could suggest that if you have a competent administration in most cases teachers can be convinced to resign rather than go through a grueling dismissal process. Since LAUSD kind of triggered this whole event someone might look at the number of teachers there who in the last few years resigned or went through dismissal.

    And, as to costs and time in teachers’ dismissal LAUSD provides more insight. Someone might google the CA State Auditors Report on the situation in LAUSD and it is more than possible they might find that lengthy and costly delays could be attributed to the LAUSD’s attorneys actions and the administrations lack of action. There was one person singled out by the CTC for problems in LAUSD and it wasn’t a teacher, it wasn’t a union officer, and it wasn’t problems with state statutes related to teacher “tenure,” LIFO, or due process. If someone is to be dismissed the reports from the CTC and Auditor made it pretty plain who that is. There were rumors about this dismissal occurring, but guess who came very publicly–with op/eds in the LA Times and pressure applied to the LAUSD Board–to the rescue? The same person behind Students Matter.

    As the say, the “plot thickens.”

    It is good that the case for the defense will be heard. There will be a number of actual experts in the field of education testifying. This is opposed to testimony from shills for the 1%, the charter industrial complex, politically ambitious administrators, the usual suspects form the public school criticism industry, and “scholars” from outside the field.

    • Don replied

      on March 6, 2014 at 9:32 am

      Gary,

      The case is about the constitutionality of the 5 statutes. The value-added discussion arises as part of the discussion, but it isn’t the central point being litigated. I would agree that value-added methods are as yet unreliable. Peer review seems like a far better option with many examples of successful application. Many administrators are simply not in a position to make good judgments about teacher quality and a panel of teachers can do a far better job of it. The teaching profession needs to take ownership of itself, even if the unions won’t.

      I know by experience that the lowest performing teachers stick out like the town dunces. Most schools seems to have at least one or two of them and teachers and parents are well aware who they are. Again in my experience here in San Francisco, the process of documentation is so long one and most principals move on before they can complete it. New principals often won’t take over where the others left off. This is anecdotal, but among my school friend and acquaintances I hear this often. It is a subject that arises because parents focus on how to avoid having their children in these classes. In low performing schools where the number of ineffective teachers is higher students who get consecutive years are hit harder academically. I think the prevalence at low performing schools is irrefutable. This is the crux of the case because it demonstrates that the law’s practical application results in inequitable educational opportunity is therefore unconstitutional.

      • navigio replied

        on March 9, 2014 at 6:57 pm

        The VAM model is fundamental to the plaintiffs case as this is what is used to classify the quality of teachers and upon which the whole claim of ‘worse’ teachers is based.

        It’s also noteworthy that a study published by a defense witness concluded that there was no measurable difference between the quality of teachers assigned schools based on income. Anecdotally, I would also tend to question the claim of prevalence in lower income schools. Regardless, if one is to make that claim, it is instructive to ask why. As well as to understand what that says about how we measure quality.

  5. Gary Ravani said

    on March 5, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    There is something funny going on with this website. I posted to this article and it pops up on “Recent Comments” as being on the science standards article, but if you bring up that article, it isn’t there either.

  6. Gary Ravani said

    on March 5, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    Again, note that the measure being used by Students Matter to determine if a teacher is “grossly ineffective” is Value Added Methodology which has been widely denounced by many experts in the field, notably the National Research Council, as being wildly unreliable. Likewise Raj Chetty’s “research” has been widely debunked. If his assertions were accurate, the differences between students having a high performing teachers and low performing teachers in “life time outcomes” is about the cost of a medium latte and a small cookie a day.

    The somewhat careless talk of how much and how long it takes a district to dismiss a teacher needs to be addressed. It averages “hundreds of thousands of dollars and years.” Really? The discovery process in a trial is interesting. Much information can be revealed. Like if you took the cost and time of a couple of outlier cases that did take years and millions of dollars and “averaged” those times and costs with a “typical” dismissal you might get “years” and ‘hundreds of thousands;” however, if you take the mode (the most frequent appearing number[s]) rather than the mean you could come up with very different numbers. Like $65K and months, for example. Just saying.

    Or you might read the deposition of an attorney involved with districts’ dismissal cases who could suggest that if you have a competent administration in most cases teachers can be convinced to resign rather than go through a grueling dismissal process. Since LAUSD kind of triggered this whole event someone might look at the number of teachers there who in the last few years resigned or went through dismissal.

    And, as to costs and time in teachers’ dismissal LAUSD provides more insight. Someone might google the CA State Auditors Report on the situation in LAUSD and it is more than possible they might find that lengthy and costly delays could be attributed to the LAUSD’s attorneys actions and the administrations lack of action. There was one person singled out by the CTC for problems in LAUSD and it wasn’t a teacher, it wasn’t a union officer, and it wasn’t problems with state statutes related to teacher “tenure,” LIFO, or due process. If someone is to be dismissed the reports from the CTC and Auditor made it pretty plain who that is. There were rumors about this dismissal occurring, but guess who came very publicly–with op/eds in the LA Times and pressure applied to the LAUSD Board–to the rescue? The same person behind Students Matter.

    As the say, the “plot thickens.”

    It is good that the case for the defense will be heard. There will be a number of actual experts in the field of education testifying. This is opposed to testimony from shills for the 1%, the charter industrial complex, politically ambitious administrators, the usual suspects form the public school criticism industry, and “scholars” from outside the field.

  7. Don said

    on March 5, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    Correction: I didn’t mean – newly relaxed standards – I meant the newly relaxed dismissal practices.

    Floyd, answer this: What is your idea of a “bad” teacher and how would you identify one?

    I want a specific answer in a few words.

    There are a lot of conflicting notions of what constitutes a good teacher. My impression is that you like to look for easy answers and I suspect you will tell me that the best teacher is the one with the best relative student test scores – (an extraordinarily specious correlation), IMHO. Am I right?

  8. Jerry Matchett said

    on March 5, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    You may wish to know that I am a retired high school science teacher, and taught my career in one of the suburbs of Seattle. I took a leave of absence for two years to teach in Micronesia on an island in Truk Lagoon, then returned to my teaching north of Seattle. After retiring I worked for the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, traveling all over the state for two years visiting and teaching in elementary schools; followed that by teaching in a religious high school and finished my teaching career with part time teaching in Seattle School’s Homeschool Resource Center. Other than my two years in the tropics and a few vacations, I have lived my full life in western Washington, going to early elementary school on the Olympic Peninsula, going to upper elementary and Junior high in a district north of Seattle, going to high school in Seattle, getting my degrees and teacher certificate from the University of Washington..

    I would like to make two major points. The first is that no evaluator really knows how to figure out if a teacher is doing a good job. After several year of teaching, the high school principal decided to give the evaluation responsibilities to the vice principals. Shortly thereafter I found myself in conference with the vice principal who was to be my judge. What he said was so profound that I wrote it down in my journal.

    He said “Jerry you have been in the classroom nine years. When I started teaching I was in the classroom for two years. I did terribly! A chance came up for me to go to graduate school and become an administrator. I jumped at it! How the hell am I supposed to evaluate your classroom teaching? I didn’t have enough experience to learn it myself.”

    Late in my teaching I was subjected to a female principal who did things like meet with a parent, regarding a parent complaint and make a decision about what the teacher must do even though the teacher had not meet with the parent, nor was given the chance to. The parent objected to some part of my grading system, but I was given no chance to explain nor defend it. The principal simply issued a directive that was completely demonstrative of her ignorance..

    It was that particular year that I really found the teacher’s union to be supportive and helpful. Two student informants reported to the principal that I had used profane words in class. I had tried the technique of a friend who taught junior high who, to get immediate attention from the class, struck his fist on the table and uttered what the students took to be profanity.
    “What did you just say, Mr. ____?” they asked.

    He slowly pronounced the words “Got dandruff in my hair and some of it itches too!” He said it always got them to pay attention. (Try saying it rapidly and loudly with explosive delivery)

    The trouble is that only teachers should evaluate teachers – the administrators do not have the faintest idea how. Teachers do one of three things after their careers are about 2 or 3 years along. They decide teaching is not for them and leave. Or they decide it is the most wonderful experience of their life and continue to retirement. Or they become administrators, in order to have a well-paid easy job.

    Is it not strange to compare the military and teaching? When battles are lost military commanders are changed. When learning does not seem to be going well they look for ways to make the teachers scapegoats, but leave the administrators alone.

    My second point is that we need to compare education to medicine. If we ran the latter the way education is conducted, we would have 30-35 patients enter a room at one time and the doctor would lecture them. The doctor would not give individual exams nor make individual prescriptions nor order any special procedures at hospitals. He would just lecture or show videos about “wellness.”

    You see, the history of education is caught up in the history of early universities. Someone whose knowledge was thought superior lectured others. The others took exams and when they had memorized everything well enough they were awarded a degree. Then they could go out and lecture – to a large audience. Once in a while a superior student was given individual help but the majority just attended lectures and memorized. We have set up public schools on this latter model, even though parents know full well that their own most effective teaching is often one on one or perhaps one to a small number of children.

    What we have now is the federal government deciding what constitutes good education. (scores on some kind of tests) Teachers, who understand education, are cheating and changing test answers to boost scores. Ask yourself why they do that? Of course they have two motives. One is to help their students survive and the other is to make themselves look proficient in a hopeless situation (that is they are adopting the schemes of administrators.)

    We are in a sorry mess in public education and it is getting worse. The federal government now wants to control school lunches. The students rebel by dumping them in the waste can. Teachers could learn from them.

  9. Manuel said

    on March 5, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    You get what you paid for.

    The fact that many good teachers put up with the low pay, lack of respect, and poor administrative and parental support does not invalidate the fact that there will always be some deadwood.

    It is the job of the administration to take care of that. If they can’t, they should be fired.

    Has anybody looked at the statistics on principal retention? How many get unsatisfactory reviews? How many bad principals are dumped in poor areas?

    It is so much easier to go for the low-hanging fruit…

    (I can’t wait for the defense presentation.)

    • navigio replied

      on March 5, 2014 at 5:23 pm

      and if they are doling out primarily satisfactory evaluations, then that fact is on them, not on the teachers. (independent of the question of whether those results are justified or not).

  10. Don said

    on March 5, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    Reforming these statutes should not be considered disrespectful of the teaching profession. Removing ineffective practitioners is important in every profession and teaching is no exception, though made more difficult as part of public employee unions. Let’s say Vergara is ultimately successful upon appeal. Long after this has died down, replacing dismissed teachers will become a generational problem. Hard-to-staff schools have that name for a reason. It is very difficult to get anyone, qualified or not to work at these schools for even a short time and with all the pressures being brought to bear in the classroom in conjunction with the low salaries and the cost of the necessary credentials, finding effective replacements who will be willing to jump through the myriad hoops year after year will create an employment crisis in education. At present, these schools have large numbers of new graduates 20% of whom drop out before they finish the first year and close to 50% leave the profession within 5 years (nationwide). These schools also get the ineffective teachers who get pushed out of better schools, but manage to stay working in their district at these low performing schools because of their seniority.

    It will be up to the districts to evaluate teachers under the newly relaxed standards and, in practice, more teachers will be dismissed, even in San Francisco where unionized administrators will be evaluating unionized teachers. Teachers deemed ineffective would have to be replaced by greater numbers of new graduates if fewer ineffective teachers are in the system. There’s the rub. Given the teacher retention and turnover record in California, we are likely to see more a much more itinerant teacher pool and the revolving door will continue to spin to the continued demise of students, particularly at underperforming inner city schools.

  11. Floyd Thursby said

    on March 5, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    I respect 90% and want to see the other 5-10% fired, it’s that simple. No job should make it impossible to be fired. Especially one as important as teaching. The idea that the union is only fighting unfair labor practices is absurd. They’ve made it ridiculously hard to fire anyone, ever. They even demanded $40k for a child molester. If they actually had someone with a brain consider each case and sometimes decided not to defend a teacher and that they were bad, I’d respect them more. I feel they automatically treat each case like firing the teacher is abuse and the teacher is a noble cause. No institution should be so automatic. They need to realize good teachers are being hurt by the bad ones as well and find a way to be fair and encourage some teachers to be fired for the good of children and the vast majority of good teachers. It’s the automatic knee jerk defense of everyone that bothers me. I’ve seen the union defend teachers no one who actually thinks about the situation would ever defend.

    And blaming administrators is silly. They are in a bad situation because the laws are so biased towards the teachers.

    El, the point is, they are not focused on the point at hand, they’re trying to avoid a decision on the main point due to obscure technicalities. They don’t want the judge to consider the evidence, which is obvious. If they lose, they’ll probably appeal, a sleazy practice. They’re just looking for any excuse to maintain the status quo. They aren’t focused on the main argument. Read the full article. Their attempt is to avoid the proof being considered.

  12. Brad Huff said

    on March 5, 2014 at 11:45 am

    Where is the respect for teachers?

    There will always be people at the bottom of the barrel in any situation.

    Why make all teachers suffer, if administrators find using the strategies they have onerous? Poor, ineffective teachers with tenure can be fired and have been fired.

    Blame administrators, not the laws and not teachers.

    The unions are doing their job: ensure that actions affecting the terms and conditions of employment follow due process. Yes, unions do fight for teachers dealing with unfair labor practices regardless of whether they are good teachers or poor teachers.

    As a former principal I can say the first step is to recruit and hire the best teachers you can and then to support their development to help them become better teachers. I never hired a teacher to fail.

    When I hear of districts ‘dumping’ poor teachers on a principal, I fault the district administrators.

    Teaching is not an easy job. Most teachers are in the profession to help children. It is certainly not the pay!!

    In today’s climate, it appears the business community is bent on showing public education has failed, their greedy eyes on all the public money ‘wasted’ on traditional education.

    Respect teachers and teaching.

    And encourage parents to respect teachers and teaching.

  13. Don said

    on March 5, 2014 at 9:55 am

    I think you made your point, Floyd. Long ago. Do think that repeating it is going to convince anyone? Probably the opposite.

  14. Ian L said

    on March 5, 2014 at 9:18 am

    Just because the laws are bad, doesn’t mean you have to change them.
    Seriously. Yes, there are horrible colleagues who are ineffective teachers. Yes, these laws make it impossible to fire them.
    And…. so don’t give anybody tenure. Problem solved. Nobody is FORCING school districts to rehire teachers after only 18 months. It should be policy to simply not grant tenure to anyone and then you just get hired for another 2 year bid. Problem solved.

    HELLO!!!!!

    • navigio replied

      on March 5, 2014 at 5:00 pm

      Actually, the law does require after a certain number of years that you choose to make the person permanent or let them go. Its an attempt to avoid having employees who are perpetually in a state of limbo. But school districts have figured out a way around this by using the temporary status instead.

  15. Floyd Thursby said

    on March 5, 2014 at 3:52 am

    The reason the courts are necessary is the legislatures, school boards and other government officials are all afraid to lose donations by offending the teacher’s unions. If you say why not have a vote, polls show 80% of Californians oppose the current system of seniority, LIFO, tenure, etc. However, if a law is proposed, the union tries to maintain the status quo by individualizing the law, nitpicking, finding a minor flaw and exaggerating it. They then pressure legislators behind the scenes with thinly veiled threats to bankroll opponents if they don’t do what they say. Then when there’s a lawsuit, they say why not a slightly different lawsuit where they can prove they tried hard to dismiss each teacher and each student was impacted personally and they can prove it, a huge burden of proof. It’s a delaying game to maintain the status quo. They never want a focus on the issue at hand, quality of teaching, because they are in the minority. They want to say, not this law, try another, not this lawsuit, try another, because each time it delays it at least 2-3 years, but when another angle is tried, they manipulate behind the scenes to individualize that. It’s all a game, but the sad part is every time they trick everyone into thinking they just oppose a minor thing and want to do it another way, another 2-3 years of children suffer, and their ultimate goal is to maintain the status quo in perpetuity.

    Let children be our primary goal, not changing the subject and finding any technicality to maintain the failed status quo.

  16. Floyd Thursby said

    on March 5, 2014 at 2:56 am

    I’m extremely disappointed in the sleazy and dishonest arguments of the union and government. OMG, amazing, they don’t give a damn about the students and they really prove it here, looking for sleazy technicalities to dismiss a case. Who cares of one teacher would have been given tenure or one student was taught by someone? It would be an outrage if they won based on such an irrelevant technicality. What a sleazy lawyer trick. I am so happy the judge saw through this argument by people who just don’t care about children and only care about an adult interest group. Maybe the judge saw ‘Waiting for Superman’.

    I think it is irrefutable that bad teachers exist and are protected, and it costs so much to fire bad teachers, over 100k on average, that most districts don’t bother. It’s not “just due process” as the union claims. The union requires “due process” knowing most adminsitrators won’t bother or can’t afford to spend 100k or more to fire an ineffective teacher, and that when layoffs happen and there’s a chance to get rid of the deadwood, they are unable to do so in the interests of the students. It creates a job environment where no one has to worry about calling in sick. My friend at PG&E is a programmer, terrified to call in sick for fear it’ll be remembered at lay offs. Many professionals don’t even take all their vacation. But teachers generally take the max off, and absence spikes on key days, 12% in SFUSD the Tuesday before Thanksgiving according to the Examiner. Also, 91 have been fired in all of Califorinia in 10 years, 19 for performance, 72 for misconduct. It’s ridiculous for the union to try to deny these students their day in court based on the fact that there are rules which make it super hard by which someone could be fired. They make it as hard as possible and there are union reps standing in the way every step of the way, making it harder wherever possible. They had to pay a child molester in LAUSD over $40,000. It’s not just due process, it’s a system which allows ineffective teachers to continue in their job and is built to do so.

    It’s really despicable that the attitude of the union isn’t let’s fix this and improve our schools, but instead let’s come up with any sleazy dishonest argument we can to maintain the status quo in a state that’s far behind on education, in a nation which is behind, in a way which disproportionately impacts minorities. It shows no concern for children. I’m very disappointed in the union. Instead of seeking a compromise and finding a way to get rid of the worst 5% faster, they try to find specious and misleading arguments which are irrelevant to what’s best for childre. It is really reprehensible behavior.

    Jim Finberg is completely dishonest. Yes, it is so wonderful Jim, it helps retain teachers. Bad ones we shouldn’t retain! It also makes the public reluctant to vote more money for education after having had bad experiences.

    Hopefully the judge will be on the right side of history with this one. Geoffrey Canada and Michelle Rhee will be proud of our state if this judge does the right thing.

    • navigio replied

      on March 5, 2014 at 6:19 am

      who cares? um, the courts care. this whole ‘proving your case’ thing is a curious aspect of going to court.

      i dont think enough judges are fired for incompetence. i think we should fire more judges. and because i think it, it has to become law. those are the facts, and they are indisputable.

      • Floyd Thursby replied

        on March 5, 2014 at 12:40 pm

        Firing judges is a dangerous precedent. Navigio, the political process has become warped by the use of union dues to elect puppet candidates who don’t think freely on this issue. Sadly, politicians don’t hire people to research what is best for children, they get a call from the union saying if you oppose this, we’ll primary you or donate to your opponent. In SF, they basically annoint new members.

        I’m sorry, when the state legislature can’t even pass a bill to dismiss molesters faster, there’s something rotten in Denmark. The union nixed that one in committee. The courts are the only way to go, or ballot initiatives. We have to bypass the legislature because they can’t be trusted. Even ballot initiatives will get muddied by dishonest arguments on TV Ads paid for by union dues.

        Navigio, is your primary concern what’s best for children, or do you have another secret primary concern you are not disclosing?

        • navigio replied

          on March 5, 2014 at 4:57 pm

          floyd, you are just for the status quo of ineffective judges making decisions that hurt children and society.

          btw, the political process has become warped by money in politics in general. unions have no monopoly on that. ironically, unions are even outspent by private interests, most of whom are decidedly on the other side of the fence. ho hum.

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