Opinion > Commentary

Seize Vergara’s opportunity to create a workplace for 21st century learning



Seth Rosenblatt

Last October, I wrote about a lawsuit that was still under the radar of most Californians — Vergara v. California. Although I had hardly the expertise to handicap its chances of succeeding in court, I predicted that this case could be “the biggest potential change to sweep California public education since Serrano v. Priest.” This week, Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu overturned five California Education Code statutes around firing protections, tenure and seniority. Interestingly, the judge referenced Serrano liberally in his decision, signaling his belief in the historic nature of the ruling.

As expected, the education community is abuzz over the decision because if it is sustained on appeal, it may indeed be the biggest change in California public education in the last four decades, or perhaps ever. There are thousands lining up both lauding and chiding the judge’s ruling.

No doubt there is plenty of nervousness filing through the ranks of teachers and certainly through the leadership of both local and statewide union representatives, but I do believe that regardless of the final judicial outcome of this case, we have a historic opportunity to re-imagine and recreate a system built long ago which hardly could be argued is well adapted for a 21st century learning paradigm. I do not buy into the arguments that this case is about “reformers” vs. “traditionalists” or that it’s about charter schools, competition, or privatization. This is about an opportunity for all of our public schools to bring true professionalism to the profession of teaching. If together we can create a new compact on how we hire, evaluate and even fire teachers, I believe it will not only be better for our students, but better for our teachers as well.

So, my plea to all sides on this issue is to view it as an opportunity to discuss how we elevate the profession of teaching and examine the obligations on all sides to accomplish that. We need more money in the system to better pay teachers as professionals, but we also need modern work rules, pay schemes and evaluation processes to better support both teachers and students. Those of us in local school districts don’t need to (and shouldn’t) wait for the final ruling in Vergara, nor do we have to wait for the Legislature to create new rules based on that decision. We already know what we need to do, and we can start now.

Most local school board members and administrators with whom I have spoken recognize that we can’t treat teachers exactly as we treat employees in the private sector — there are certain obligations required and protections needed as public employees. It’s reasonable for teachers to have due process in employment decisions (much as other government employees do), but clearly this process shouldn’t be so onerous in terms of time or money as to create a disincentive for a district to make the right decision. Most understand that using test scores to evaluate teachers’ performance is so reductive and narrow as to be inherently meaningless, but that does not mean that teachers shouldn’t have frequent, rich evaluations from qualified evaluators (including other teachers). And such evaluations should inform both the support that we give our teachers and the employment decisions that we make.

I also implore the Legislature to look at other areas of California Education Code that run counter to serving the interests of our students and schools. As I argued in my 21st Century Education white paper from almost two years ago, let’s really think about “starting over” and restructuring Ed Code to reflect policies that:

  • Allow school districts to create a nimble, professional, 21st century workforce
  • Enable the adoption of smart technology solutions (as opposed to antiquated textbook requirements)
  • Support modern facility requirements
  • Reexamine grade structures (including the obvious necessity of universal preschool)
  • Enact other policies that expand the role and scope of public schools (in terms of time and resources) to provide “community” services to mitigate the effects of poverty and allow our public school system to become the “great equalizer” that it is now only in theory
  • Notwithstanding the step forward with LCFF, further shore up the financial system to support all of the above changes

I recognize it’s difficult to change something that has just been accepted as common practice for decades. Naturally, many may be anxious about potential changes or suspicious of motives, but to paraphrase Franklin Delano Roosevelt, it is only the fear we need to fear. Public school advocates can recognize that so many of our schools are doing amazing things with the resources and structure they have inherited, but also admit that we must open everything up to potential change to meet the modern requirements of the institution. I hope that this week’s ruling doesn’t pit well-meaning advocates against each other, but rather starts a conversation in earnest.

EdSource welcomes commentaries representing diverse points of view. The opinions expressed in this commentary represent those of the author. If you would like to submit a commentary for EdSource Today, please contact us.

Filed under: Commentary, Pay and Tenure, Teaching

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31 Responses to “Seize Vergara’s opportunity to create a workplace for 21st century learning”

  1. Paul Muench said

    on June 13, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    At the moment I am placing my bets that Judge Treu’s ruling is reversed on appeal. Do you think that is the wrong bet? Also, do you have more concrete suggestions in your white paper for what should actually change?

    • Seth Rosenblatt replied

      on June 13, 2014 at 5:09 pm

      Paul – I can not say what is the right bet is here. I’ll leave that to legal scholars. As for specific suggestions, I do go into more detail in the 21st century white paper to which there is a link in the article.

    • Floyd Thursby replied

      on June 16, 2014 at 3:13 am

      I read it carefully. Many who want it to be reversed are trying to goad him into giving too many details which lead to a reversal. I think he has been very careful and know several lawyers who have reviewed the case. They say he has been very thorough and careful to avoid making any mistake which could cause the ruling to be reversed. Many were acting like if only he’d addressed more issues, they’d support it, but legal scholars say the more he does this, the more avenues he leaves open for possible appeal. I think Treu has been smart about this and therefore it won’t be appealed.

      The problem is the union controls the politicians so effectively that a court case or a ballot initiative are the only possible ways to change this. I think most in business agree that this is hurting the country economically, having bad teachers stay on the job for decades, and call me a cynic but if this is costing businesses and the country and even the government billions of dollars in lost productivity, I’ll bet on it not being reversed. It is rare for a case to be reversed, and I doubt it will happen here.

      • TheMorrigan replied

        on June 16, 2014 at 7:08 am

        Will the appeal be heard? Without a doubt. It meets the most important criteria: It is a controversial ruling that has significant impact that potentially goes beyond the issues that it ruled on.

        With an appeal, the court of appeals reviews not only the judge’s summative ruling but they also review the whole trial transcript, all accepted and submitted evidence, and any motions filed with the court (the latter is where my daughter says it will be appealed).

        In the 2008-2009 fiscal year, 19% were reversed. In the 2009-2010 fiscal year, 21% of appeals were granted a reversal. (the most recent data is not listed). The average for CA in the last 20 years is between 20 and 25%. While the percentage is low, it is not exactly rare, especially since it happens fairly regularly at least 20% every year.

  2. TheMorrigan said

    on June 13, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    Paul,

    I agree that is the correct bet. My district attorney of a daughter also agrees.

    And I also think your second question is a good one. I have no idea what or how the work place should change for the 21st century with regard to permanent status and seniority. What do “modern work rules, pay schemes, and evaluation processes” even mean? I didn’t see these items in the white paper that is cited.

  3. Floyd Thursby said

    on June 13, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    Great article. For too long we’ve been stuck in a failed status quo. This doesn’t have to be bad for teachers, as we end automatic lifetime employment in lieu of more pay, we should provide…more pay, so teachers will have to work harder and deal with more stress, good for their students, and at the same time make more money and be able to afford more for housing and other needs, good for them. It will put the profession more in line with most others. It doesn’t have to necessarily be easy to fire teachers, it just won’t be incredibly hard, maybe just one round of due process but not several. We also are now free to re-examine everything. I’ve often thought, what if we were to build a whole new system from scratch, knowing what we know, nothing is set, everything is negotiable. Now we have that chance and we should address every issue you mention and more. Great article! I think the hours is a key issue. If Asian kids study 14 hours and thrive, and others study 6, a clear solution is to have after school study hall mandatory for all except the most advanced students, and weekend tutoring, and if some kids don’t study enough on their own, we have to provide them not just the quiet time but also the support and help to study as much as immigrant children who are leaving native Califorrnians in the dust with their higher level parenting and superior dedication and work ethic.

    • Andrew replied

      on June 14, 2014 at 7:39 am

      I respect your viewpoint, Floyd.

      Can I offer a different model than the “Tiger Mom” grind-through-lots-of-hours model?

      We homeschooled our kids K-12 in a very rural setting. We never spent more than a couple of hours a day on formal education K-8, never on weekends, and not even all weekdays. But we worked to nurture independence, intellectual curiosity, a love of reading, and a love of learning in a relaxed setting. The kids were allowed responsibility for their own educations 9-12, and a lot of our function was to get them the resources that they wanted, the best we could afford, and to make suggestions from time to time.

      We never taught to any test, but we tested regularly using standardized tests and the kids always tested at the very top, a stellar result that continued with the SAT for college and later the GRE. One of our major goals was to give them as much freedom as we could.

      They developed astounding self-discipline that came from within, not externally imposed, and powerful intellectual curiosity. Each obtained multiple degrees in demanding majors, all summa cum laude. All are well adjusted, community minded, involved in charity, well-employed, good friends with each other, and yet each is extremely independent.

      I once had a friendly argument with a “Tiger Mom.” I thanked her. I told her that her strict practices and rigid views were producing kids who would make excellent compliant lower-to-mid level employees for my homeschooled kids.

      A certain amount of our motivation and approach was derived from essays of New York State Teacher of the Year, John Taylor Gatto. One essay was particularly electrifying, The 7-Lesson Schoolteacher:

      http://www.newciv.org/whole/schoolteacher.txt

  4. Don said

    on June 14, 2014 at 10:07 am

    My layman’s understanding of the legalities involved in the appeal is this: The appeals court must decide whether the test of constitutionality will be eased from the former one which maintained that a violation only occurs when the overall school quality is “fundamentally below prevailing statewide standards” as opposed to the more activist stance that only a “real and appreciable impact” on a student constitutional right to an education is the necessary test. The courts have been reluctant to loosen the standard in the past and this decision has broken with the general tradition. If upheld it could open the gates to all sorts of educational inequality cases. That’s why it is being hailed by some as a win for the underrepresented. As such it puts into question whether or not progressives are more interested in employee protections or the student’s right to a equal education.

  5. Paul said

    on June 14, 2014 at 11:07 am

    I bet that the decision will be upheld, but that those who already have permanent status will keep it. A permanent teacher has a property right to a position within his district. Government cannot take away property without compensation (future earnings through retirement?), but can decline to offer it in future.

    This is what happened in at least one other state.

    There are no inherent due process dismissal protections for public workers. It’s disingenuous for Seth, and commentators, to talk about imaginary protections. Vergara makes teachers at-will employees, subject to dismissal immediately and without cause, for the whole length of their careers. Period.

    In California, all employment, private and public, is at-will, unless:

    1. There is an affirmative law; or

    2. There is a provision in a collective bargaining agreement; or

    3. There is a provision in an individual employment contract.

    Vergara strikes down #1 for certificated school employees. Due process laws for classified school employees and most state, municipal and special district employees do not apply to teachers; teachers are not part of a “civil service” system.

    Past inability to reach consensus about modifying the laws that were struck down in Vergara suggests that efforts to pass new laws in this area will fail. Given the initiative process, the voters themselves could be counted on to block laws restoring employment protections for teachers. The cat is out of the bag.

    As for #2 and #3, CBAs and teacher contracts didn’t normally provide due process dismissal rights, because those rights were legislated. After spearheading the repeal effort, school districts have no reason to voluntarily restore due process at the local level.

    Legal analogy for doubters: What due process dismissal rights apply to substitute, temporary, end-of-year probationary, or charter school teachers, public employees all? None.

    • FloydThursby replied

      on June 14, 2014 at 3:29 pm

      Call me crazy, but couldn’t we work out a new system somewhere between

      A. Teachers can be fired at any time for any reason as at will employees and

      B. It is so hard to fire teachers it takes years and 6 long steps, costs an average of over $100,000, only 2 a year are fired for cause in the whole state, and the union defends every teacher, even chose to defend Mark Berndt and force LAUSD to pay him $40,000, and there are thousands of poorly performing teachers that stay on the job for decades and the union defends as if they are a noble cause.

      There has to be something between these two extremes.

      How about you need a principal plus at least 5 other teachers or parents, and they get a review period of a month, you have to document poor performance.

      Why don’t we make it as difficult as it is to fire a DMV worker. Not a McDonald’s worker, not a teacher as now, but something in between?

      Why do all these comments frame it as an all or nothing choice?

      I tend to believe if a teacher has tenure, they can keep their job if they work hard. They may have to work harder, not call in sick 11 times a year out of a mere 185, and deal with parents more respectfully. They may have to give more effort to embracing reforms. But if they have a chance to change and keep their job, it’s hard to feel as sorry for them as many people on this board like Gary seem to. Gary, if they can at least work harder and obey the principal and improve, shouldn’t this be a fair change? As it is now, some teachers don’t feel at all nervous if their boss calls them into a meeting about parent complaints or other issues.

      • Paul replied

        on June 14, 2014 at 4:42 pm

        Floyd, you can imagine whatever system you want, imagine a poltical consensus that has so far failed to materialize, and even imagine that some Southern California conservative group* or other won’t resort to a ballot box challenge of any law restoring any job protections to teachers.

        Existing law is very much either-or. If Vergara is upheld, teachers become at-will employees for the length of their careers, just likd McDonald’s workers. There you have your true “21st century” workforce: cheap, obedient, and completely replaceable. A McDonald’s employee can easily find another job. A teacher can’t. That’s why no smart person will want to take the risk of becoming a teacher, post-Vergara.

        * I don’t mean to insult conservatives here. Though I disagree with most of their proposals, these groups do sometimes ask tough questions about government spending. They also tend to demonstrate much better knowledge of economics and finance than do progressives. On thd other hand, some really are nuts. A few years ago, the California Secretary of State posted on its Web site a then-circulating measure to end public education entirely. You can probably find it in the archives if you look.

        • Andrew replied

          on June 15, 2014 at 6:45 am

          ” A McDonald’s employee can easily find another job. A teacher can’t.”

          One reason that a teacher can’t find another job, even a very good and enthusiastic younger teacher, is the very laws at stake here which protect ineffective older entrenched teachers from firing and which keep jobs from opening up that should be opening up.

          There is another reason that teachers can’t find jobs. It is in the interests of employers to maintain an oversupply of teachers to keep wages down and to force teachers to work under conditions that are inhumane. If we actually begin to move toward the “shortage” of teachers that was predicted to happen in 2006 but never seems to arrive, those with vested interests in an oversupply of teacher candidates will simply water down the qualifications needed, as opposed to maintaining high professional standards and subject matter competence requirements. “Alternative Pathways” producing teacher-lites will pop up like spring mushrooms and for-profit diploma mills will pull in any warm body that can sign a student loan application and get it credentialed. In two years all these teacher-lites will obtain tenure and then they will be in the system for the next 30, unless Vergara prevails.

      • Andrew replied

        on June 15, 2014 at 9:43 am

        You make a great point, Floyd! The only ones I know of arguing that teachers will have no protection at all if the present extreme protections are changed are the unions. I am not saying they should have no protection at all. You are not saying they should have no protection at all. We are basically saying that the likelihood of an incompetent teacher being fired should be greater than the likelihood that the incompetent teacher will be hit by a falling meteorite, which is about the odds of an incompetent teacher being fired under the present system.

  6. Don said

    on June 14, 2014 at 11:57 am

    If as you say a “teacher has a property right to a position within his district’ then the 14th Amendment applies.

    -Due Process Rights of Teachers-

    “The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, like its counterpart in the Fifth Amendment, provides that no state may “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” This clause applies to public school districts and provides the minimum procedural requirements that each public school district must satisfy when dismissing a teacher who has attained tenure. Note that in this context, due process does not prescribe the reasons why a teacher may be dismissed, but rather it prescribes the procedures a school must follow to dismiss a teacher. Note also that many state statutory provisions for dismissing a teacher actually exceed the minimum requirements under the Due Process Clause”

    – See more at: http://education.findlaw.com/teachers-rights/teachers-rights-tenure-and-dismissal.html#sthash.0ZIo1gXf.dpuf

    • Paul replied

      on June 14, 2014 at 4:19 pm

      Don, Vergara, if implemented, means at minimum that no future teachers will receive permanent status. Thus, there will be no property right and no process to follow when dismissing them. Under state law, all employees are at-will by (absent specific legal or contractual protections — which teachers no longer have) and can be dismissed at any time, without cause. That’s it. It was already the case for substitute, temporary, end-of-year probationary, and charter school teachers. (Read about “classification” of certificated employees, and about Ed. Code exemptions for charters, if you don’t know the details.) They have no property right to a job, and thus, the 14th Amendment does not protect them.

      Again, Vergara strikes down the teacher job protection laws that exceeded minimum requirements. 14th Amendment due process becomes a non-issue, as future teachers won’t have a property right to be deprived of.

      (I am sure that the courts won’t try to take away the property rights of teachers who already have permanent status.)

      Unfortunately, there’s no perfect term to describe teachers’ former job protections. Everyone — including the CTA and and AFT at times — uses “tenure”, but Gary got upset when I used that word a few years ago. Now, when I use “due process”, you forget that there had to be a property right — permanent status, i.e., the guarantee of a position in one’s current school district — for the term to make sense.

      Your post does remind us that there was a process for removing teachers with permanent status/”tenure”/whatever you want to call it. Of course, no employer likes having to evaluate, support, wait, document, justify, notify, etc. before firing someone. It is always easier to try one’s luck with a replacement. Now districts won’t have to follow any steps, and will be able to replace teachers on the spot.

  7. Gary Ravani said

    on June 14, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    Recently the Supreme Court Republican appointed majority decided that in 21st century America many provisions of the Voting Rights Act were no longer applicable. Immediately many, mostly southern, states began enacting laws and regulations clearly directed at suppressing the voting rights of the elderly, the poor, and minorities.

    Recently a CA judge, a Republican appointee, decided that various job protection rights afforded to teachers was no longer applicable in the 21st century. These labor rights, it was asserted, were unconstitutional and harmed poor and minority students though nothing in his ruling explained how the rights were unconstitutional nor did it explain how the labor statues that covered all CA students and school districts were specifically onerous for the poor and minorities.

    What are the potential outcomes if this ruling is sustained? The outcomes are highly unlikely to be to the benefit of CA’s students. You don’t help school children by declaring war on their teachers.

  8. Don said

    on June 14, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    Plaintiffs demonstrated that low performing schools generally sustain larger RIF layoffs than higher performing schools ( a real and appreciable impact), which is a direct result of the LIFO provision. Judge True was convinced, despite the paucity of explanation in his decision, and there is widespread political concurrence that crosses cultural and economic lines and these non-legal voices diminish the notion that the ruling was anomalous, inept, or extreme. I would have liked more explanation, but sometimes the largest and most significant decisions are the simplest.

    • navigio replied

      on June 14, 2014 at 3:12 pm

      Good point. However, if teacher retention is made a function of test scores, the same or worse would occur.

    • navigio replied

      on June 17, 2014 at 7:00 am

      There is a precedence here that is troubling. Of course, the situation in those schools does not exist solely or even primarily because LIFO exists. Rather, in those cases, LIFO acts to highlight much deeper, structural problems such as lack of funding and administrative support to those schools–things that will continue to exist regardless of what happens to LIFO. In the past, I have argued that LIFO does not seem to have been designed to take into account the situation of prolonged budget cuts. The problem with that is that such a situation can be used to “manufacture” these underlying problems, or at least bring them to the surface and make it appear that LIFO is the cause. This obviously provides increased incentive to use budget cuts as a “valid” (ie effective) political strategy. This reminds me somewhat of the quote from a former federal Secretary of Education who said he didn’t want to increase funding for public education because he did not want them to succeed He wanted them to fail so that they could be replaced by private education.

  9. Jeff said

    on June 14, 2014 at 4:03 pm

    Although I abhor the Vergara decision, I agree with the author that it would be great if something good could come of it, even if, as I expect, it will be overturned on appeal. I’m afraid, however, that this will only harden the battle lines and make change less likely.

  10. Andrew said

    on June 15, 2014 at 6:17 am

    The constitutional amendments which protect individual rights, such as the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment, are mostly prohibitions against government action (as opposed to private sector action.) In the legal world, this is sometimes referred to as “state action.”

    In short, many constitutional protections only apply to protect individuals from the government (including school districts and principals), but not in or from the private sector. These constitutional protections that apply to government but not private action apply to the firing (and hiring) of public employees.

    The California laws struck down in Vergara go well beyond the protections provided by the Constitution in making it very difficult to fire an ineffective teacher.

    Indeed, the laws struck down by Vergara, and others, may be viewed as offensive to Constitutional principles of equality and fairness. The laws protect entrenched teachers at the expense of younger teachers. Older teachers are paid twice as much as younger teachers, De Facto reverse age discrimination, even though younger teachers do the same work and some younger teachers do it better and harder than some older teachers. Young highly effective teachers are locked out of jobs while extremely ineffective older teachers are protected along with excellent older teachers.

    Probationary teachers are subject to arbitrary firing because California passed special laws to allow it, laws that are suspect constitutionally.

    • Paul replied

      on June 15, 2014 at 8:43 am

      On the contrary, Andrew. In California, all workers, public or private, are at-will unless there is an affirmative law, a CBA provision, or a contract provision to protect them.

      The reason that probationary teachers couldn’t be dismissed summarily mid-year was an Ed. Code section providing for dismissal with cause other than at the end of a school year (an affirmative provision that gave the employees a property right to continuing employment for 10 months, triggering the constitutional protections that you allude to).

      The reason that permanent teachers couldn’t be dismissed without cause was two provisions: one that granted permanent status within a district (it never applied across districts) to a teacher re-elected after two consecutive full-time years of certificated service within the same district, and another, specifying dismissal with cause for probationary teachers. Again, these laws created a property right to ongoing employment, triggering constitutional protection.

      The reason that charter school teachers can be dismissed without cause is a provision of the Ed. Code that exempts charter schools from the entire section on teacher “classification” (substitute, temporary, probationary or permanent).
      No property right, no constitutional protection against having ot taken away.

      In case you doubt me, remember that there are plenty of other government employees who do not have a property right to continued employment, and who thus enjoy no more constitutional protection regarding their work than do private employees. Any state, municipal or special agency position not designated “civil service” is an example. This includes public sector executives, political appointees and, in places like San Francisco, entire agencies/departments. The University of California, too, started to discourage the hiring of “indefinite term” (permanent) employees in the early 1990s.

      • Paul replied

        on June 15, 2014 at 8:46 am

        Obvious correction, paragraph 3, sorry!

        The reason that permanent teachers couldn’t be dismissed without cause was two provisions: one that granted permanent status within a district (it never applied across districts) to a teacher re-elected after two consecutive full-time years of certificated service within the same district, and another, specifying dismissal with cause for *PERMANENT* teachers. Again, these laws created a property right to ongoing employment, triggering constitutional protection.

      • Andrew replied

        on June 15, 2014 at 9:19 am

        I agree, Paul, that generally both public and private employees are “at will” and that anytime there is “at will” employment there is considerable latitude allowed in terminating an employee. But public entities such as school districts are not exempt from following the state and federal constitutions, whereas essentially private employers are.

        The vast majority of California Charter schools, except for the few “district dependent” charters, are actually corporations, albeit “non-profit” corporations, and not public entities. It is true that there are specific California laws designed to ensure that charter teachers are “at will” but the laws may be largely superfluous given the corporate nature of those schools.

        • Andrew replied

          on June 15, 2014 at 9:36 am

          A practical application of the public/private employee distinction: From a purely constitutional basis, it would probably be completely constitutionally legal for General Motors to arbitrarily fire all of its employees who had red hair on the basis of their hair color, stupid or unfair as it might be. It would probably be a constitutional violation for a California school district to fire all of its red haired school principals on the basis of hair color, even if they were “at will!”

          Most public school principals are “at will”, are they not?

          • Andrew replied

            on June 15, 2014 at 10:42 am

            Another protection for even “at-will” public employees. We live in a democracy. School board are elected. Principals serve at the pleasure of school board, “at-will.” If administrators are unfairly terminating good teachers, or any other good public employees, the public can be persuaded to vote in a way that ultimately terminates the unfair administrators themselves. This protection does not apply at all in the private sector.

          • navigio replied

            on June 15, 2014 at 2:45 pm

            Election scope is insufficient as a lever for determining the fate of individual employees. Regardless, the board has virtually zero say over school staffing decisions, regardless of how their power is characterized.

  11. Shelley Klein said

    on June 15, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    A few ideas my daughter, who just received her science credential, and I have discussed. 1. Who holds administrators and the district office accountable? How are they evaluated? These past years we have had nothing but top down, no evidence, research or data or justification decisions made that have, in my opinion, put us back 30 years, not forward in the educational process. 2. Why do teachers only get 5 years of ‘pay’ when they transfer? Maybe if they could take all their experience and pay scale with them, they would be happier in a different district. And that would allow teachers to be treated more like professionals where their experience, education and background stays with them. 3. We need to work on professional development – something other countries do much better than we do. It should be a given, that teachers would work together doing lesson labs, professional learning communities, etc. Everyone would understand and be trained how to work collaboratively. Teaches should be give an hour a day and time to observe each other regularly. Reflective practice and ongoing learning and improvement should be the norm AND should be given the proper training, time and resources to make it meaningful. Until teachers are paid for all the prepping, grading and feedback, reflection and learning and not just time with students, we will feel unappreciated and overworked. We want to be better teachers, we just can’t do it all!

    • navigio replied

      on June 16, 2014 at 8:26 pm

      1. Nobody. In theory a board might but they rarely have sufficient visibility, and even then how would they apply pressure? Fire the superintendent? What happens for the next failure they need to address?
      2. I expect some of that is to not make it virtually impossible to move districts. The more expensive a new hire is, the less likely it is to happen. Not having so much variability in pay scales would likely be a better way to address that.
      3. We as a culture have little patience for getting things right a priori when it comes to working conditions. Instead we leave it to the invisible hand to slap sense into people by simply moving onto the next person until someone gets it right. Simply working harder is always the ‘solution’. I doubt we’ll ever figure that one out. Perhaps we need more coverage of studies that compare how teachers in other countries work compared to those here..

  12. Andrew said

    on June 16, 2014 at 5:57 am

    I fear I have strayed from the author’s important points, including where we go from here to create a workplace for 21st Century learning.

    It was sad to learn in the last week that Paul, who has eloquently contributed valuable and astute insights here, has given up on teaching in California.

    Paul, regardless of our differences in some views, you have always struck me as ideally qualified as a 21st Century teacher, someone I would want teaching my children if they were school age.

    I don’t want to pry to personally, but may I ask, what would it have taken to keep you laboring in the field of teaching in California? Not just what would have been enough to keep you teaching, but what would have made it satisfying and rewarding, a good job? What can we work to change for the 21st Century to make it the workplace it should be so that people like you stay in it and find it good? Whatever we agree or disagree on, California education cannot afford to lose people like you.

  13. Floyd Thursby said

    on June 16, 2014 at 3:08 am

    Now saying your kids will be higher than these kids, that’s great for you, but overall, Asian parenting is more successful at every level, and the fact is if we had more Tiger Parents, we would not trail other nations on test scores. Your way worked for you, but it doesn’t work for society as a whole. Also, public schools have helped us achieve greater equality for gay and lesbian people, greater integration, and knowledge of health, drugs, smoking, and other issues. Your method hurts the kids in public school with parents not able to homeschool as well, both needing to work. My method helps my kids do better than nearly all while avoiding doing damage to other innocent kids, not my own, who suffer isolation and discrimination (and this includes many poor whites in rural areas) when their schools are avoided due to white flight, private schools, or homeschooling.

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