January 28 2014
Vicki E. Alger
Nine California students want a better education, so they’re in court trying to banish teacher tenure. Teachers unions, of course, say protecting teachers from arbitrary firings is sensible policy. Fair enough. Yet the same teachers unions tolerate criminal conduct and gross incompetence, so now we’re in a whole new league.
Which brings us to the lawsuit.
The students argue that teachers shouldn’t be protected when they grossly incompetent. What’s grossly incompetent? According to one named plaintiff, 17-year-old Beatriz Vergara, gross incompetence includes what one of her teachers did (or didn’t do), including falling asleep, watching You Tube videos, or reading the paper—all while ignoring students--during class.
Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy testified about the difficulty of weeding out "grossly ineffective teachers,” as the Associated Press reported:
Deasy was asked whether because of the short time for evaluation, the nation's second-largest school district has been unable to avoid granting tenure to some grossly ineffective teachers.
‘An average successful termination is one to two years ,’he said. ‘But some cases have taken slightly less than 10 years.’ Deasy said the cost to the school district for each dismissal ranges from $250,000 to $450,000. If misconduct is involved, it can cost even more, he said, because ‘you're preparing a court case.’
California has resisted common-sense teacher evaluations, tenure reform, and merit-based hiring and firing policies for decades. How refreshing that in spite of entrenched, special interest opposition from so many adults, young people are leading the charge for high quality, accountable schooling.
[For any Duck Dynasty fans out there, this is definitely an “America…is…making…a…come…back” moment, as Grandpa Phil would say.]