Today is the day that will finally change public education here in California for the better. A landmark case was decided that, if upheld, will send the tenure system as we know it to death row, and allow for firing of ineffective teachers.
A California judge ruled that tenure violates a student’s basic rights to public education, especially minority children. Personally, I have seen many ineffective teachers in our own local public school system, and I participated in a successful effort to remove an ineffective Principal a few years ago – not an easy battle (and I had to resort to writing a legal memorandum pointing out all the reasons the district could possibly be sued in the future for letting the Principal stay in the position in order to get noticed).
The great thing about this ruling is that it benefits everyone in the education system. It obviously benefits students by eliminating ineffective teachers from classrooms, making way for caring, positive and instrumental teachers who truly want to teach to have the opportunity to educate our children. Also, the firing process will no longer be so difficult (one statistic I heard on a news report was that to fire a teacher in California it takes up to 10 years and half a million dollars…and we wonder why we don’t have more money to spend in our schools!) Just think – schools can bring back programs like music and art, instead of wasting money trying to fire tenured teachers – double whammy!
Teachers will benefit immensely from this new ruling because those teachers who really want to teach, want to make a difference, and are excited to do so – those teachers will have a better chance of actually teaching. If seniority is not longer a priority then the newer, enthusiastic teachers can replace those who no longer enjoy it and are just hanging on to collect a paycheck (and believe me, there are MANY of them, at least here in our district!).
My niece is a teacher in a tough neighborhood school in Los Angeles. A magna cum laude Stanford credentialed graduate, she has been teaching for onlyÂ two years and her students love her – she has challenged them to want to work hard, and they do it…scores have risen and she is an enthusiastic and exciting, positive teacher. With her credentials she could have worked anywhere, but chose that school. She is making a difference. These are the types of teachers we need!
This ruling also benefits school administrators because it obviously makes their jobs easier if they have strong groups of teachers at their schools; which in turn makes communities happier and stronger. Maybe violence in schools would decrease if students had strong teachers and role models (I know – a stretch, yet if you think about it, it’s not so far-fetched).
Of course, you can’t please all of the people all of the time. The teachers union is of course very unhappy with the ruling. They say their job is to protect the teachers, but the problem is that the tenure system protects the teachers from being fired at the expense of students, schools and communities. Like many parents, I have lots of bad teacher stories from my childrens’ schools (in fact, I just met with the Principal this week to report more incidents, and suggested that an educational psychologist come in and train teachers how to speak to and respect students – you’d think most would know but not in our experience). It is time for the unions to realize that we are never going to better public education until they just give up archaic systems.
This ruling today is positive and true. I hope that it means we are finally on the right path to improving public education in this state, and even more so in this nation. Maybe in the near future America’s public students will finally be able to compete with those educated in other countries – I think now that such a goal is a light at the end of the tunnel, instead of just a dream.