Credit: Courtesy of Students Matter
Laurence Tribe will join Students Matter as a legal advisor

Students Matter, the organization that has taken the lead in seeking to undo teacher tenure and hiring and firing laws in California, has added one of the nation’s leading – and liberal – constitutional scholars to its legal team: Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe.

The organization, which was founded by Silicon Valley entrepreneur David Welch and has the backing of leading venture capitalists, already has considerable legal firepower at its disposal.

The law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher represented Students Matter in its challenge to California’s teacher employment laws in the Vergara v. California lawsuit. Students Matter won the first round in the Los Angeles Superior Court, but the ruling issued by Judge Rolf Treu will not go into effect pending an appeal by teachers unions and possibly the State of California.  

The legal team was led by attorneys Ted Boutros and Ted Olson, the former solicitor general of the United States in the administration of former President George W. Bush. With co-counsel David Boies, Olson also led the legal charge against California’s anti-gay marriage initiative that resulted in last year’s historic Supreme Court ruling on the issue.

Tribe will act as a pro bono “advisor” to Students Matter as it expands its challenges to teacher employment laws in other states.

Tribe has long been regarded as a potential Supreme Court justice, but his chances of ever making it onto the court have seemed dim because of near-certain Republican opposition if he were ever nominated. He has been a Harvard professor for decades but has roots in California. He graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco, then enrolled at Harvard at the age of 16.

“There is no more important function that state and local governments serve than providing the next generation with an education,” Tribe said in a statement issued by Students Matter. “As someone who attended public schools from elementary school through high school, I know first-hand the profound impact that our public school teachers have on a child’s education. My own life was shaped by the guidance of inspiring, dedicated teachers who helped me realize my potential. Every student deserves teachers like that. By working with Students Matter, I plan to do my part to ensure that our education system encourages quality teachers in every classroom, every day.”

 

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  1. Gary Ravani 4 years ago4 years ago

    First Alan Dershowitz (since retired) asserts that “torture warrants may be justified” (re Iraq/Afghan prisoners) and now Tribe comes out with this nonsense. Something in the water at Harvard?

    Replies

    • Celeste Phooey Condon 4 years ago4 years ago

      Tribe is a traitor to all liberals and should fight to give more people, not fewer, guaranteed lifetime employment at a living wage. The dirty scumbag! He probably just wants more money to take advantage of poor women. The pervert!

    • Don 4 years ago4 years ago

      Professors at Harvard who don’t toe the typical far-left party line in Academia! Who ever thought that diversity would extend its reach to include thought? .

    • FloydThursby1941 4 years ago4 years ago

      Are we free if we can't have our own opinions because we went to this or that school? I graduated from Cal and am liberal on 9 issues out of 10, but extreme LIFO hurts kids, and when I saw it hurt my own and saw articles about it, I opened my mind. If I'm morally obligated as a Cal grad to support LIFO forever or Gary will accuse me of drinking foul … Read More

      Are we free if we can’t have our own opinions because we went to this or that school? I graduated from Cal and am liberal on 9 issues out of 10, but extreme LIFO hurts kids, and when I saw it hurt my own and saw articles about it, I opened my mind. If I’m morally obligated as a Cal grad to support LIFO forever or Gary will accuse me of drinking foul water, if Harvard professors must toe the line, are any of us truly free? Tribe is free, but Gary you are a threat to his freedom by implying he is obligated to agree with you at all times like a mindless robot.

  2. Don 4 years ago4 years ago

    Principal: Hello Mrs. Smith. What can I do for you? Mrs. Smith: I'm very upset with my daughter's class this year. Principal: Why's that? Mrs. Smith: Well, you see, Mary complains every day after school that her teacher is either absent from class or that she doesn't do anything when she is there. Lots of time she just puts in a video and reads a book. Haven't other parents complained about her teacher? Principal: I'm not allowed to … Read More

    Principal: Hello Mrs. Smith. What can I do for you?

    Mrs. Smith: I’m very upset with my daughter’s class this year.

    Principal: Why’s that?

    Mrs. Smith: Well, you see, Mary complains every day after school that her teacher is either absent from class or that she doesn’t do anything when she is there. Lots of time she just puts in a video and reads a book. Haven’t other parents complained about her teacher?

    Principal: I’m not allowed to discuss that.

    Mrs. Smith: Why not?

    Principal: It is against policy

    Mrs. Smith: But certainly you must be aware of the problems in room 12?

    Principal: Yes, of course I am as any good principal would be. But what can I do? The instructor is entitled to take sick days and I can’t dictate to her how to teach. The year is almost over and next year your daughter will have another teacher. Just hang in there.

    Mrs. Smith: But my daughter hasn’t learned anything this year and next year will be very difficult for her. Aren’t you going to do anything about this situation?

    Principal: Mrs. Smith, I am very sensitive to this problem. I understand how you feel and I have my concerns about the teacher. She is within her rights under the union contract with the district.I’m working on the problem, but it takes time. I have documented her weaknesses as a teacher, but, you know, this is only my second year and the instructor has worked here over fifteen years. What I can tell you without violating any confidentiality is that we are working on giving here the professional guidance she needs to be a better teacher.

    Mrs. Smith: With all due respect, she’s a terrible teacher and should be fired. Why should my daughter suffer while this school gets its act together?

    Principal: We can’t just go around firing instructors who technically have done nothing wrong. Besides, it would look very bad for me as a man if started proceedings against a female teacher and the central office would not be supportive. You may not be aware, but that process is very detailed and it can take months if not years to complete and cost the district a ton of money. It won’t do you and your daughter any good even if I did attempt to dismiss her. My advice is to just hang in there. Have you thought about getting her a tutor in the meantime?

    Mrs. Smith: I really can’t afford that. I guess I’ve just wasted my time.

    Principal: I’m sorry Mrs. Smith. I understand how you feel, but rest assured that we will do everything we can to help your daughter to succeed.

    Replies

    • FloydThursby1941 4 years ago4 years ago

      I've been in these conversations. It's shameful that people like Gary and Caroline support such a system and prefer adults over children. I think if a teacher is caught anywhere but in bed sick or at a doctor's appointment on a day they miss, there should be a one strike policy. Kids learn nothing when teachers take days off just for fun, and how selfish can you be to say, you know … Read More

      I’ve been in these conversations. It’s shameful that people like Gary and Caroline support such a system and prefer adults over children. I think if a teacher is caught anywhere but in bed sick or at a doctor’s appointment on a day they miss, there should be a one strike policy. Kids learn nothing when teachers take days off just for fun, and how selfish can you be to say, you know what, I want to take a day and walk on the beach or go to a game or relax, and that desire, since it’s in my contract, is more important than the education of 22 or 30 children. Why is selfishness so awful if it comes from billionaires, but so noble and in need of absolute protection if it comes from a teacher? I couldn’t look at myself in a mirror if I had 22 students and took a day off just for fun knowing the low quality of most substitutes and confusion.

      The status quo has done such a good job of creating a level playing field and class mobility that we have less movement among quintles in income from one generation to the next than Europe or Japan.

      The union lost it’s ability to claim it has an alternative when they protected so many bad teachers. Everyone knows the lemons are there. In my view, the union would gain credibility if it fought only for teachers who are honestly trying their best and are decent, teachers calling in sick when they’re not, playing videos, getting dozens of complaints on ratemyteacher.com and ones like Mark Berndt should get a call from the union saying you know what, we protect most teachers, but we can’t protect you any longer because you’re making our cause look bad and making teachers feel they can call in sick just because it’s in the contract. If the union did that, I wouldn’t have supported Vergara with my volunteer time and effort. They’d have shown some self control and concern for children. But instead they show children are unimportant to them. Good job. Great job by the way on pressuring LAUSD to give 40k to Berndt, you gained so much public trust doing that, what a great victory!

      • TheMorrigan 4 years ago4 years ago

        Floyd,

        It is not “shameful” that Gary and Caroline disagree with you.

        What is “shameful” are your personal attacks in your argumentation. It is low, Floyd. You may keep all the silly repititions about Asains and lemon teachers and teachers who call in sick, but leave the personal attacks out. Be something better than an Internet thug on EdSource.

        • Don 4 years ago4 years ago

          I have personally counseled Floyd on these matters, but to no avail.

          Who needs insults when you have facts?

          As for the repetition, that’s what the scroll button is for. But it is rather tiresome.

        • FloydThursby1941 4 years ago4 years ago

          It's not that they disagree with me, it's that they never address certain issues and go through life pretending they don't exist. They pretend bad teachers staying on the job for decades and hurting children is not a problem at all, and that teachers never take days off unless they are sick and that this is not a problem for kids at all, or that if they do, it's not important enough to note. … Read More

          It’s not that they disagree with me, it’s that they never address certain issues and go through life pretending they don’t exist. They pretend bad teachers staying on the job for decades and hurting children is not a problem at all, and that teachers never take days off unless they are sick and that this is not a problem for kids at all, or that if they do, it’s not important enough to note. And yes, on Asians, when they talk about poverty, they fail to mention who does well in poverty.

          Thomas Kuhn showed you have to change paradigms when one paradigm is broken. It is not shameful to disagree, but it is shameful to ignore factors which hurt many. I watched JFK the other day and the opening quote was “To sin by silence when we should protest makes cowards of men.” I feel this is true of women as well.

          I acknowledge the points on the other side and include them in my worldview. I believe we need protections in place which ensure teachers aren’t unfairly fired with no due process for personal or political reasons, but we don’t need 5 steps and hundreds of thousands of dollars. I acknowledge people do get sick and need days off, I just find it excessive particularly considering teachers get 65 days a year off most of us don’t, so needing another 11 personal and 5 sick is insane, if you miss 16 of 185 days you have a terrible work ethic most years. I couldn’t look myself in the mirror if I did that and my job is not important to children.

          I also acknowledge that poverty limits achievement and focus and want the schools to provide more tutoring and other services, and they do provide meals and other anti-poverty assistance such as free after school care in most schools and for the poor, in all schools. But I also acknowledge that sometimes all of us don’t study when we should, don’t teach our kids when we should, and not because we’re exhausted but because we turn on the TV. Many parents who people say couldn’t have taught their kids to read by kindergarten due to poverty have a nice TV or game system they spent 1000 hours on last year, which is statistically provable.

          You see this is a disconnected. When my 1st grader didn’t have a teacher who showed up and who was horrible when she did, and whom 22/22 parents wanted gone, who was in cafes on days she called in sick and came in 50/180 days, Gary and Caroline feel she needed professional assistance, and that I should just be silent and suck it up and take it for the benefit of adult job security.

          When silence is required in the face of suffering, the paradigm breaks down. It is breaking down, and a very liberal lawyer joining this cause shows this is not a liberal-conservative issue. It’s a human issue, and we must look at the greater good of children’s education vs. adult security.

          • Don 4 years ago4 years ago

            They have responded to you - way back when before you began repeating the same things over and over, ad infinitum. You simply didn't like the answer. And now "they" just ignore you because you've got nothing new to say. It's excruciatingly tiresome and frankly rather boring. Read More

            They have responded to you – way back when before you began repeating the same things over and over, ad infinitum. You simply didn’t like the answer. And now “they” just ignore you because you’ve got nothing new to say. It’s excruciatingly tiresome and frankly rather boring.

          • FloydThursby1941 4 years ago4 years ago

            When have either addressed what to do when bad teachers stay on for decades and kids are hurt? Or fake absences? When has either addressed how some groups do well in poverty and others could learn from them and do well by more effort, use of libraries, etc.? Post a link. I think they remain silent on these issues. I've never seen either address how to get poor families to … Read More

            When have either addressed what to do when bad teachers stay on for decades and kids are hurt? Or fake absences? When has either addressed how some groups do well in poverty and others could learn from them and do well by more effort, use of libraries, etc.? Post a link. I think they remain silent on these issues. I’ve never seen either address how to get poor families to follow the Asian model of parenting with what resources are available. They always compare to the well off, but poor families can’t replace what the well off have, money, private tutors, etc. Poor families can emulate what the 41% of Lowell students who are in poverty and beat upper middle class kids into the school, such as Caroline’s, anyways, do. Poor families can use libraries, study all day Saturday, sign up for free tutors, pay attention in class, etc. Obama states this eloquently. This has not been addressed. Not once. Not by Gary or Caroline. Send a link if I’m wrong.

          • Don 4 years ago4 years ago

            Why is it personal for you? Caroline almost never writes in on this blog. Your attacks seem to me to be more of a vendetta than anything else. They haven't responded to you for so long it would be hard to go back and find where I read replies. The point is that you have done nothing to assist yourself in promoting your POV because you have made it personal and mean. I'm with TheMorrigan. … Read More

            Why is it personal for you? Caroline almost never writes in on this blog. Your attacks seem to me to be more of a vendetta than anything else.

            They haven’t responded to you for so long it would be hard to go back and find where I read replies. The point is that you have done nothing to assist yourself in promoting your POV because you have made it personal and mean. I’m with TheMorrigan. I’ve read a lot of commentary to articles on this blog, but I stopped reading yours long ago. And I suspect that most everyone else has as well. There’s just so many times you can read the same thing.

          • FloydThursby1941 4 years ago4 years ago

            Don, you repeat yourself a lot as well. Who doesn't? It's hard to have a new opinion on each issue that doesn't reflect something you've expressed before. How many times have you said that all professions except teacher and all state funding for all departments except teaching should be adjusted based on cost of living, but that per pupil finding and teachers should be compensated less in expensive places. You've often … Read More

            Don, you repeat yourself a lot as well. Who doesn’t? It’s hard to have a new opinion on each issue that doesn’t reflect something you’ve expressed before. How many times have you said that all professions except teacher and all state funding for all departments except teaching should be adjusted based on cost of living, but that per pupil finding and teachers should be compensated less in expensive places. You’ve often said bad teachers should be able to be fired. You’ve often said funding should be more equal among schools in the same district. There are many more. No person can talk about an issue without repeating points. I’m sure Obama has said the same thing hundreds of times. I’m just not able to always say something new.

  3. CarolineSF 4 years ago4 years ago

    Comment from Diane Ravitch. Should the MSM also ask the questions she's asking? Discuss among yourselves. "Politico.com reports this morning that Laurence H. Tribe, a legal scholar Harvard, has joined the campaign to eliminate teacher tenure. "Students Matter, which led the Vergara lawsuit to overturn teacher tenure and other job protections in California, will announce this morning that constitutional scholar Laurence H. Tribe is joining the group as senior adviser. Tribe, a Harvard law professor, … Read More

    Comment from Diane Ravitch. Should the MSM also ask the questions she’s asking? Discuss among yourselves. “Politico.com reports this morning that Laurence H. Tribe, a legal scholar Harvard, has joined the campaign to eliminate teacher tenure. “Students Matter, which led the Vergara lawsuit to overturn teacher tenure and other job protections in California, will announce this morning that constitutional scholar Laurence H. Tribe is joining the group as senior adviser. Tribe, a Harvard law professor, will advise on legal strategy as Students Matter seeks to bring similar suits in states across the country.”

    “The burning question of the day: Will Laurence H. Tribe relinquish his tenure at Harvard Law School? More important, will he join with other activists to abolish tenure in higher education? Or do these eminent lawyers just like to beat up on the female-dominated teaching profession in pre-K-12?”

    Replies

    • Don 4 years ago4 years ago

      Now we can add misogyny to the list of reasons why not to dismiss any teachers ever.

    • Gary Ravani 4 years ago4 years ago

      Indeed, an interesting discussion question, Caroline. The meta picture here seems to reflect what is going on in politics at large. The "conservative" side seems to be divided into two (or more) camps as in the Tea Party, shut down the government and no compromise on immigration, etc. types, and the more traditional , pro-business and pragmatic types. On the "liberal" side we have the traditional liberals supporting working people, and the neo-liberals who see … Read More

      Indeed, an interesting discussion question, Caroline. The meta picture here seems to reflect what is going on in politics at large. The “conservative” side seems to be divided into two (or more) camps as in the Tea Party, shut down the government and no compromise on immigration, etc. types, and the more traditional , pro-business and pragmatic types. On the “liberal” side we have the traditional liberals supporting working people, and the neo-liberals who see their fortunes handcuffed to billionaires and a goal of containing union power that might conflict with the billionaire’s agenda. Somehow they’ve convinced themselves that the wellbeing of the majority is furthered by kowtowing to the oligarchs. Go figure.

      Tribe’s involvement in the issue will lead some to believe there is a Constitutional issue involved in Vergara which is a legal point that has been declared by the Republican appointed judge in the case, but is an assertion left totally unsubstantiated in his ruling.

      (And it is not coincidence that when you trace the antecedents of the Tea Party and pro-Vergara “liberals” you find stacks of billionaire dollars to wallow in.)

      We should also discuss the issue of “tenure” and what it means at the college/university level and how that differs from the K-12 level. College tenure involves what might be called “peer evaluation.” Professors can only be dismissed with the agreement of other professors and, I assume, some level of due process. Tenure is also granted by peers.

      At the K-12 level “tenure” is a misnomer. Permanent status is what is granted at K-12. This means management must show “cause” for dismissal. Management must give notice of the cause to the employee and allow for an improvement plan. If there is no improvement management can proceed with dismissal and the employee can ask for a hearing before a professional commission with an administrative law judge and one member each chosen by management and the employee. After that panel has ruled there is recourse in the courts. There are myths prevalent about the cost and time of this process. During discovery in Vergara it was revealed that “millions of dollars and years of time” was a gross exaggeration true only in a couple of outlier cases. The real average time was tens of thousands and months. It was also stipulated by a management attorney that if handled properly most teachers resigned without going through the process. There is a commonly displayed “shutes-and-ladders flowchart,” designed to make the process seem overly complex. It has always been true that if a teacher was charged with some egregious abuse or conduct management has the right to remove them immediately from the classroom until an investigation can be conducted. Contractual due process, separate from statutory due process, does not protect individuals or behaviors, only the process negotiated by both sides.

      Teachers and unions have no statutory role in hiring and dismissal.

    • Don 4 years ago4 years ago

      As a matter of fact there are many articles in the MSM regarding doing away with tenure in Academia, though the most recent focus has been with K-12 because the of the current president's reform agenda. I'm in complete agreement with many here who oppose the outsized influence of billionaire influence on public education policy, though it is remarkable how those liberals who oppose it have so little to say about Obama's role in this … Read More

      As a matter of fact there are many articles in the MSM regarding doing away with tenure in Academia, though the most recent focus has been with K-12 because the of the current president’s reform agenda.

      I’m in complete agreement with many here who oppose the outsized influence of billionaire influence on public education policy, though it is remarkable how those liberals who oppose it have so little to say about Obama’s role in this mess.

      But realistically, big money influence on policy is nothing new. The fundamental problem lies with Obama. If he hadn’t decided to insert federal influence into the business of states we wouldn’t have the problems we have to day with CCSS, RTTT or the renewed virulent strain of NCLB (IDEA). This is what happens when you elect a President who has no regard for constitutional law.

  4. Jann Taylor 4 years ago4 years ago

    Historically, tenure developed to protect teachers from egregious practices by unscrupulous administrators and school boards. To abolish tenure continues the attack on teachers, and opens the door to a return to punitive practices. Every student benefits when teachers feel cared for, not when teachers are attacked. Truly help students by nurturing teachers so we can nurture the many children in our care.

    Replies

    • FloydThursby1941 4 years ago4 years ago

      Hold on a second, you're saying a 50-year free pass in which it was virtually impossible to fire a bad teacher is just a pause in a horrific continuing attack? You're saying this practice of the past, which I feel you exaggerate, will continue? I know there were some horrible things in the past, gay teachers were routinely fired and probably make up 10% of teachers now if you include bi, but this … Read More

      Hold on a second, you’re saying a 50-year free pass in which it was virtually impossible to fire a bad teacher is just a pause in a horrific continuing attack? You’re saying this practice of the past, which I feel you exaggerate, will continue? I know there were some horrible things in the past, gay teachers were routinely fired and probably make up 10% of teachers now if you include bi, but this couldn’t happen due to new laws, Google couldn’t fire gay people if it wanted to.

      Jann, I had a teacher take off when my son was in 1st grade and miss teaching for 5 different reasons. Many things I heard were whispers because people were so afraid to violate a rule by the union that you can’t talk about it. The teacher was seen in cafes by parents on days she called in “sick”. She was there under 50 days and we couldn’t even get a permanent sub until the last 6 weeks out of 36. 22 parents wanted her gone because she was a bad teacher even when there.

      There are other teachers with 20 consecutive negative reviews on ratemyteacher.com.

      No one wants to return to the past, but blindly caring for all teachers is stupid. There are bad people in every profession. The fact that a programmer can theoretically be fired isn’t an attack on programmers.

      The union had monopoly power on this for 50 years and ask any parent with a bad situation who complained how far they got? The union always makes every teacher out to be noble, even Mark Berndt whom they forced LAUSD to pay 40k to fire before he started a 25-year prison sentence for molesting LAUSD students.

      Most teachers are good, but bad ones exist. Many vote against big increases in education funding because they want the seniority/tenure thing worked out first, so they just vote no.

      They could give bonuses for attendance.

      Most teachers will earn more if the few bad ones are culled. Children are #1.

      I agree in most cases, happy teachers will teach well, but there are some cases in which this is not true. It’s not an attack, it’s basic logic. Every profession has bad performers. Teachers are no exception. They shouldn’t have a lifetime guaranteed job after 2 years, or ever. Berndt was by all measures a good teacher until he lost it in his ’50s.

      • are you kidding 4 years ago4 years ago

        Teachers have a bank of days they earn. Teachers are entitled to take days off. I agree that extremely under performing teachers need to be addressed. However, tenure allows teachers to challenge administrators with fine tuning curriculum and question them .remove that and administration controls everthing. No one will question them for fear of being let go. Like happens in the private sector. What is needed is better training.

        • FloydThursby1941 4 years ago4 years ago

          It's immoral to take a day off you don't need when children are counting on you. Personally, I think 185/185 is not too much to ask. I've gone 250/250 18 years of 20. Yes, management should have some power over employees. Kids are really hurt by subs. We should start giving bonuses for good attendance in lieu of raises so teachers have an incentive to come in every day. … Read More

          It’s immoral to take a day off you don’t need when children are counting on you. Personally, I think 185/185 is not too much to ask. I’ve gone 250/250 18 years of 20. Yes, management should have some power over employees. Kids are really hurt by subs. We should start giving bonuses for good attendance in lieu of raises so teachers have an incentive to come in every day. If you really are sick, that’s OK, but taking 11 days off a year just because your contract says you can is not right and hurts innocent children. It should at least make a difference in your bottom line. Those who are diligent and do their errands on off days should be rewarded with more pay than those who don’t. This involves paying on value provided, not seniority.

    • Andrew 4 years ago4 years ago

      "Historically, tenure developed to protect teachers from egregious practices by unscrupulous administrators and school boards." What about when bad teachers are hired and are granted tenure as a result of "egregious practices by unscrupulous administrators". Are students stuck with such teachers for life, just because of poor screening by "unscrupulous administrators?" You can't have it only one way. If unscrupulous administrators fire good teachers in bad faith, they hire and retain and grant … Read More

      “Historically, tenure developed to protect teachers from egregious practices by unscrupulous administrators and school boards.”

      What about when bad teachers are hired and are granted tenure as a result of “egregious practices by unscrupulous administrators”. Are students stuck with such teachers for life, just because of poor screening by “unscrupulous administrators?”

      You can’t have it only one way. If unscrupulous administrators fire good teachers in bad faith, they hire and retain and grant tenure to bad teachers in bad faith.

      Tribe is and has long been a legal legend. That someone as liberal as him and with such acknowledged legal brilliance is getting involved without compensation, pro bono, on the side of the students says something.

      This is not the year 1920. It is time for CA teachers unions to wake up and smell the coffee. Lots of newer teachers resent being thrown under the bus into unemployment as a result of union mandated LIFO and little meaningful union help in the years of layoffs, while older teachers were favored and protected. Older teachers are given grossly disparate high salaries based only on longevity and are inexplicably given retention preference over more capable newer teachers, who are unfairly underpaid and for no good reason. The public is still bristling over seeing headlines about young superstar teachers-of-the-year being dumped due to LIFO. Charter schools are a growing and potent force in competing for students, especially those students who exit conventional public schools to avoid being in the class of a notoriously poor teacher for a year and never return once in the charter clutches.

      Unions can argue for the present policies which make termination almost impossible and can argue that there are no bad tenured teachers in the system, but almost everyone who attended public schools, or has children, encountered a tenured teacher or two in the process who should not have been retained. It is hard to argue against the collective personal experience of the public.

      • Don 4 years ago4 years ago

        Well said, Andrew. Bravo.

        • FloydThursby1941 4 years ago4 years ago

          Andrew, brilliant response. i couldn't have said it better myself and believe me I've tried. Another factor is that if you can't get fired no matter what, you tend to perform worse. Teachers who take every personal day available which is often 11 a year might make sure to stay in bed all day Sunday if they feel something coming on or make that DMV or Doctor's appointment on a day they … Read More

          Andrew, brilliant response. i couldn’t have said it better myself and believe me I’ve tried. Another factor is that if you can’t get fired no matter what, you tend to perform worse. Teachers who take every personal day available which is often 11 a year might make sure to stay in bed all day Sunday if they feel something coming on or make that DMV or Doctor’s appointment on a day they don’t have work anyways like Winter or Spring Break or Summer if they are judged on their students’ test scores, which they directly impact, or principal’s opinions, which might be adversely affected. Principals when deciding lay offs might say, I’ll keep the young one who was 185/185 in days attended last year (as I’ve done 18 of 20 years of my career with 250/250 required, not 185/185) over the 60-year old earning 1.7 times as much who was 174/185 last year and didn’t seem that sick to me when he or she came back, and always missed days on Monday or Friday, hmmm? I’ll keep the one who stayed late and was a superstar, etc.

          It’s not just retaining bad ones, it’s that some have work ethics worsen once they get into their ’40s and ’50s. Performance is an annual thing, not determined after 2 years as long as the grass shall grow.

          I agree also that this is a liberal cause. The union makes it out to be a conservative cause. No billionaires want to make profits from the schools. We want every child, rich, poor, black, white, Asian, Latino, multiracial, to get a great education and have the same guarantee of a good teacher kids in wealthy private schools get.

          We are the liberals in this case and the union are the conservatives. Improving education for all is liberal as the kids will make more money as adults and end the cycle of poverty if they get teachers who are motivated and paid by performance, not seniority. It’s not liberal to take a day off when you’re not sick, it’s dishonest and conservative if it hurts poor children. Playing hookey is not liberal or progressive and this is obvious to true liberals, such as this great attorney. Welcome to the cause. He is a true Han Solo, a true Rick Blaine, a true hero. Welcome to the good fight.

          • Andrew 4 years ago4 years ago

            Thanks, Floyd. It is hard for me to understand why an excellent teacher would want to continue to work for unscrupulous administrators and school boards who engage in egregious practices. Possibly because the archaic unionized system in place would cause a loss of seniority and salary if a strategic move were made. In the rest of the employment world, professional employees with bad bosses find good bosses to work for. … Read More

            Thanks, Floyd. It is hard for me to understand why an excellent teacher would want to continue to work for unscrupulous administrators and school boards who engage in egregious practices. Possibly because the archaic unionized system in place would cause a loss of seniority and salary if a strategic move were made. In the rest of the employment world, professional employees with bad bosses find good bosses to work for. Good bosses work hard to create a work environment that attracts and retains excellent professionals. A fairer compensation system would give teachers greater power and mobility. The present system actually gives administrators and boards little incentive to create the best environment and morale for teachers and it shows in the plummeting job satisfaction survey results.

      • Gary Ravani 4 years ago4 years ago

        No, you can't have it both ways. If the problem with hiring and firing all of the heretofore unidentified "bad teachers" is due to the "egregious practices by unscrupulous administrators and school boards" then it is: 1) egregious practices; 2; unscrupulous administrators; and [unscrupulous] school boards that are the problem. Undermining necessary, prudent, and pro-student teacher protections just exacerbates the problem. As is always the case with scapegoating, see the origination of that term, the … Read More

        No, you can’t have it both ways. If the problem with hiring and firing all of the heretofore unidentified “bad teachers” is due to the “egregious practices by unscrupulous administrators and school boards” then it is: 1) egregious practices; 2; unscrupulous administrators; and [unscrupulous] school boards that are the problem. Undermining necessary, prudent, and pro-student teacher protections just exacerbates the problem. As is always the case with scapegoating, see the origination of that term, the real culprits remain unscathed and problems remain unsolved.

        The key question, besides that of failing draw any causal relationship between the teacher protection statues and the low measured achievement of some students, is that so many districts including a number of which that testified in court deal very effectively with hiring, evaluating, and (when the rare occasion occurs) dismissing teachers and all under exactly the same statues as the districts who whine about how difficult it is for them to do the same. Deasy was almost amusing in that he couldn’t quite decide if he was such a successful administrator because he had managed to dismiss so many teachers or whether he was the beleaguered and hapless administrator whose hands were tied by the law.

        Mr. Tribe has served many good years as a law professor of some distinction. It appears he has passed his “use by” date.

        • Don 4 years ago4 years ago

          So if Tribe's views don't align with yours he has passed his "use by" date? There are plenty of teachers who support Vergara. Have they also passed their "use by" date? I know the various union entities speak with one voice, but we know that isn't really a unanimous voice. As for having it both ways, you can't constantly trash standardized testing as you have and then cite the results of standardized tests to attempt … Read More

          So if Tribe’s views don’t align with yours he has passed his “use by” date? There are plenty of teachers who support Vergara. Have they also passed their “use by” date? I know the various union entities speak with one voice, but we know that isn’t really a unanimous voice.

          As for having it both ways, you can’t constantly trash standardized testing as you have and then cite the results of standardized tests to attempt to prove your point. I don’t have to review test results to know what I know in my heart though personal experience and the experience of others. There are many teachers who have stunted rather than advanced the education of their students. As you referenced elsewhere – “Science unleavened by the human heart and human spirit is sterile, cold, and self-serving…

        • Andrew 4 years ago4 years ago

          From what I can see . . . If incompetent and/or corrupt administrators make a bad decision in hiring, retaining and allowing tenure for a bad teacher under the present system where firing is rarer than being struck by lightning, the bad teacher is essentially in place for life, degrading the educational process for decades. We all know of such situations. If incompetent and/or corrupt administrators make a bad decision in firing a good teacher … Read More

          From what I can see . . .

          If incompetent and/or corrupt administrators make a bad decision in hiring, retaining and allowing tenure for a bad teacher under the present system where firing is rarer than being struck by lightning, the bad teacher is essentially in place for life, degrading the educational process for decades. We all know of such situations.

          If incompetent and/or corrupt administrators make a bad decision in firing a good teacher where firing can occur, the good teacher goes somewhere else and gets another job where they recognize and value good teachers, hopefully working for good administrators. The consequences are short lived and probably for the better for the teacher in the long run.

          • el 4 years ago4 years ago

            So the interesting thing is, though, there's no state statute or ed code that makes it difficult to fire administrators. It's exceedingly straightforward... so is the process used or not used? Are there local contracts that make it difficult? If you've got a bad administrator making terrible hiring choices, you've got two years to get that person out before any of their hires become permanent. Two years is a long time to have a bad administrator. I … Read More

            So the interesting thing is, though, there’s no state statute or ed code that makes it difficult to fire administrators. It’s exceedingly straightforward… so is the process used or not used? Are there local contracts that make it difficult?

            If you’ve got a bad administrator making terrible hiring choices, you’ve got two years to get that person out before any of their hires become permanent. Two years is a long time to have a bad administrator.

            I think your point is a good one to examine: there’s potentially more harm in the system overall for terrible people getting permanent status than to have a good person sent packing, if that person ends up at another school. In practice, it’s not a given that the person does end up in another school though. As a practical matter, it can be very difficult to get hired as a teacher after you’ve been dismissed – districts don’t want to take a chance on someone else’s “rejects” after all. And, if you were in a large district, it may require moving to get a chance at all. So, it is possible that we permanently lose some good teachers, and it’s also possible that these situations cause talented people to stay away from teaching. (When I was a gifted child and expressed interest in teaching, my teachers went out of their way to wave me off into something “better” because they were so dissastified.)

            But what is today is not necessarily how we should make policy – rather, we should consider, what could be? Let’s agree that the process to dismiss a teacher currently is too bureaucratic. I would very much like to see a very honest and thorough discussion about where the current system bogs down and what part of the process could change to make it simpler and fairer to the community, the kids, the teacher, and the district. This lawsuit isn’t about that.

            So the first thing I would look at would be the administrator dismissal procedure. Does that work? Is it used as often as it ought to be? Is it used too often or unfairly? Would it scale to classroom teachers?

          • FloydThursby1941 4 years ago4 years ago

            People and behavior change. Many people in their '20s go 10 years and never call in sick, will stay in bed Sunday if they feel under the weather so they can make it Monday, or delay to Saturday and spend the weekend in bed, will schedule doctor's appointments on days they have off anyways, will work harder. The point is that knowing it is very hard to fire you makes your behavior worse. … Read More

            People and behavior change. Many people in their ’20s go 10 years and never call in sick, will stay in bed Sunday if they feel under the weather so they can make it Monday, or delay to Saturday and spend the weekend in bed, will schedule doctor’s appointments on days they have off anyways, will work harder. The point is that knowing it is very hard to fire you makes your behavior worse. Many will act like a saint for 2 years, or 3, or 5, then at some point they stop working as hard. Adjustments should be able to be made throughout a career on each year’s value add.

            It is very difficult, many principals feel there’s nothing they can do. The union is so effective at fighting attempted dismissals with their team of high priced attorneys that they made LAUSD pay Mark Berndt 40k even after a grand jury said there was enough evidence to charge him with molestation, and yes he hadn’t been convicted at that point but he later was and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Clearly bad teachers with no wrongdoing generally cost over 100k to fire.

            Have you ever dated someone who acted perfect and then you found out their secrets? 2 years is like a first date. It’s no guarantee you have the character to remain focused, only call in sick when absolutely unavoidable, work hard, for a 45 year career. Only year to year evaluation can provide that, and that is what Vergara is about, making it year by year, not 2 years and 43.

          • el 4 years ago4 years ago

            Floyd, don't you have even a little tiny bit of curiosity about what those principals who claim to be powerless to keep their people from calling in sick for dozens and dozens of days are doing about that? The principals are the direct managers here and they are the ones with primary responsibility for dealing with this, not unions, not the fellow teachers, not the state courts. Maybe it's the principals who "feel like there's nothing … Read More

            Floyd, don’t you have even a little tiny bit of curiosity about what those principals who claim to be powerless to keep their people from calling in sick for dozens and dozens of days are doing about that? The principals are the direct managers here and they are the ones with primary responsibility for dealing with this, not unions, not the fellow teachers, not the state courts.

            Maybe it’s the principals who “feel like there’s nothing they can do” that need some professional development. Either that, or I’d like to hear from them explicitly what they have done and what changes they need in state law to do their jobs better.

          • Andrew 4 years ago4 years ago

            One of the first legal maxims that I encountered in law school was "Hard cases make bad law." It was used by US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. It is a shorthand way of saying that an extreme case is a poor basis for a general law that would cover a wider range of less extreme cases. I have to agree with EL that the courts … Read More

            One of the first legal maxims that I encountered in law school was “Hard cases make bad law.” It was used by US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. It is a shorthand way of saying that an extreme case is a poor basis for a general law that would cover a wider range of less extreme cases. I have to agree with EL that the courts are a less than optimal way to resolve the problems in question and the the ideal would be, as EL says, a ” . . . very honest and thorough discussion about where the current system bogs down and what part of the process could change to make it simpler and fairer to the community, the kids, the teacher, and the district.”

            This sort of discussion requires context. In California, despite much greater than average per capita personal income, the context is that educational funding is near the bottom of the nation, the state is 51st (worst) nationally in the number of students per teacher, 51st in students per guidance counselor, 51st in students per librarian, and 48th in students per administrator. As I’ve pointed out previously, the California high school student to teacher ratio is even worse, twice as bad as the national average. In is unfair to brand a teacher as unfit to the extent that the real problem is gross understaffing and overwork and consequent burn-out. How do you fairly differentiate between a “bad” teacher and an overworked and burned out one in such a context? Not easy. The present ratios and loads are brutally unfair to the teachers and administrators involved regardless of the existence of other job protections for teachers.

            Before the teachers start cheering me, I will also mention that the older, longer serving teachers who tend to dominate union policy, union contracts, and union negotiated pay scales and LIFO have some soul searching to do as part of the discussion regarding fairness to newer, younger teachers. The very segment of the union that loudly protests that there is a “war against teachers” appears to be waging,and indeed to have won, their own war against younger and newer teachers. If layoffs are necessary, is it fair that an entrenched but very mediocre older teacher is retained by mandate while an excellent very hard working younger teacher is fired? Is it fair that older teachers are paid double what less experienced teachers are paid when both work the same long and hard hours and do the same job? Is it self-serving and greedy and a conflict of interest for those who dominate unions to impose such policy relative to younger teachers? Why not equal pay for equal work?

            If right to work and the end of mandatory union dues arrives, as seems quite possible, it will be interesting to see if the unions can somehow win over those younger teachers who were thrown under the bus in layoffs and discriminated against in wages.

          • Gary Ravani 4 years ago4 years ago

            Interesting thought, Andrew. Did it occur to you that administrators and boards make myriad other key decisions about how schools are run on a day to day as well as long term basis? If they are messing up hiring and dismissing teacher on a consistent basis (and there are plenty of districts who accomplish these tasks successfully) what makes you think they are making good decisions on all of the other areas of school management? Note … Read More

            Interesting thought, Andrew. Did it occur to you that administrators and boards make myriad other key decisions about how schools are run on a day to day as well as long term basis? If they are messing up hiring and dismissing teacher on a consistent basis (and there are plenty of districts who accomplish these tasks successfully) what makes you think they are making good decisions on all of the other areas of school management?

            Note that you don’t find high performing districts, or districts with high needs students who are doing reasonably well, whining about the laws. They hire good people, bring them along professionally and, on the rear occasion it is necessary, dismiss a teacher or create circumstances where the teacher moves on voluntarily.

            Taking that into consideration where does the real problem lie?

          • FloydThursby1941 4 years ago4 years ago

            Gary, legally there's not much they can do. Teachers can call in by machine in SFUSD, and get 10 days off a year, and if they say they're sick, they're sick, and they don't have to be 7 days, they get 7 personal days. 12 total. That's the policy. If Berndt got 40k, how much do you think it costs to fire a teacher who's been on the job 30 years … Read More

            Gary, legally there’s not much they can do. Teachers can call in by machine in SFUSD, and get 10 days off a year, and if they say they’re sick, they’re sick, and they don’t have to be 7 days, they get 7 personal days. 12 total. That’s the policy. If Berndt got 40k, how much do you think it costs to fire a teacher who’s been on the job 30 years and is doing horribly? Budgets are limited. I don’t want to go to the scenario you always bring up where administrators are dictators and can fire at aill, but Andrew is right that we have to have an honest discussion which gives children at least as much priority as teachers and where there are bonuses for attendance in lieu of across the board raises and consequences for calling in sick whenever you want or taking days off just because you can, and bonuses for not doing so. We need more compressed pay scales and more fair ways that encourage the termination of poorly performing teachers, teachers with 10-20 straight bad reviews on ratemyteacher.com, in short teachers all know are lemons, so we can improve performance. The truth is, principals now are discouraged at every turn from doing so, in terms of cost, trouble, treatment from staff. It isn’t easy. Ask principals why they don’t do this more. We need a system which encourages termination if doing so will improve teacher quality, particularly considering older teachers cost more. Older teachers should have to provide more value commensurate with their salary to have a secure job, just as in private industry. If principals had more power, behavior would improve and so would education. Yes, there should be due process, but one that encourages proactive management. Would you support this?

          • Don 4 years ago4 years ago

            According to Floyd " We need more compressed pay scales and more fair ways that encourage the termination of poorly performing teachers, teachers with 10-20 straight bad reviews on ratemyteacher.com..." Anyone can write in to Ratemyteacher and comment. I could write in today and make ten comments about on how bad is the best teacher at your child's high school school and, according to you, that teacher should be fired based upon this worthless information. … Read More

            According to Floyd ” We need more compressed pay scales and more fair ways that encourage the termination of poorly performing teachers, teachers with 10-20 straight bad reviews on ratemyteacher.com…”

            Anyone can write in to Ratemyteacher and comment. I could write in today and make ten comments about on how bad is the best teacher at your child’s high school school and, according to you, that teacher should be fired based upon this worthless information. When you say stuff like this it pretty much invalidates everything else.

          • FloydThursby1941 4 years ago4 years ago

            Don, perhaps there should be a more representative sample, but if you read reviews like that, it should at least be investigated. You need to enter contact info such as email, social networking sites, IP address. One person would have to be very skilled and manipulative to post 20 bad reviews on a teacher at once. It isn’t Yelp.

          • Robert 4 years ago4 years ago

            Floyd, I am not completely sure I read your comment correctly but the commentator Don has correctly sized up the RateMyTeachers site. The site does not require any identifying information, nor does it limit how many times someone can leave a comment (I only tried 7 times), nor does it verify that the rater even had that particular teacher or even went to that school. I posted seven comments about the same teacher I made up … Read More

            Floyd,

            I am not completely sure I read your comment correctly but the commentator Don has correctly sized up the RateMyTeachers site. The site does not require any identifying information, nor does it limit how many times someone can leave a comment (I only tried 7 times), nor does it verify that the rater even had that particular teacher or even went to that school. I posted seven comments about the same teacher I made up and added to a random school. The name was obviously fake. When I added comments to the made-up-teacher, I was only told that I needed to increase my comment length (needs to be longer than 18 characters, which slowed me down a little). I did not need to switch computers, nor delete my Internet cookies or history. I did not need to switch between Firefox and Chrome. I did not need to use a separate IP address or my neighbor’s WiFi. I posted all seven comments right after each other with absolutely no changes to my computer or Internet. It took me less than 10 minutes total during the same session.There might be a limit to the comments, but my guess is that there isn’t and 7 definitely isn’t it.

            While I agree that one would need to be manipulative to do as Don suggests, one does not need to be skilled at all.

            If you are interested in setting up a teacher survey for your school, ratemyteachers is probably the worst you could find and use. A simple and cost effective solution is to use Google Drive and create a form or use SurveyMonkey. Both have their problems, but they are quick surveys that are relatively inexpensive and can be emailed to all students and parents for participation. They are a little more reliable and have more built in mechanisms to prevent the kind of manipulation that is evident in ratemyteachers.

          • el 4 years ago4 years ago

            Floyd, about ten minutes with Teh Google will tell you how to create 20 distinct identities meeting those criteria. 🙂

          • FloydThursby1941 4 years ago4 years ago

            So El, because it is theoretically possible for one person to mislead via this site, is the answer to forget about student ratings or parent ratings? Or is the answer to come up with a system where student ratings are genuine and have real consequences and are more accurate? Your solution is generally to turn people's heads with a criticism, then they forget. If your real concern is one person creating a … Read More

            So El, because it is theoretically possible for one person to mislead via this site, is the answer to forget about student ratings or parent ratings? Or is the answer to come up with a system where student ratings are genuine and have real consequences and are more accurate? Your solution is generally to turn people’s heads with a criticism, then they forget. If your real concern is one person creating a biased point of view and not with maintaining LIFO, would you favor investigations into teachers who get horrible ratings consistently by their students and by parents? I know sometimes kids fill out forms, but there are no consequences to them. Would you change that in extreme cases, or is your goal just to criticize the latest potentially truth-telling mechanism in the hopes everyone forgets and LIFO continues to wreak havoc on children unabated?

  5. FloydThursby1941 4 years ago4 years ago

    This can only be good news for children.