The tenure and seniority system in the California public school system has been struck down in court, according to the LA Times. Judge Rolf M. Treu, from Los Angeles County Superior Court, said that laws for job security are unconstitutional because they hurt low-income, minority students who are taught by incompetent teachers.
Judge Treu wrote that protections “impose a real and appreciable impact on students’ fundamental right to equality of education. The evidence is compelling. Indeed, it shocks the conscience.”
The decision from the court ends the process of laying off teachers based on their hire date. The ruling also removes the tenure protection, which was earned when teachers worked 18 months in the classroom.
Arne Duncan, the U.S. Education Secretary, said that the ruling could change similar “laws, practices and systems that fail to identify and support our best teachers and match them with our neediest students.”
Randi Weingarten, the head of the American Federation of Teachers, said, “This is a sad day for public education.” Weingarten also said that a child should not have an ineffective teacher, “but in focusing on these teachers who make up a fraction of the workforce, [Treu] strips the hundreds of thousands of teachers who are doing a good job of any right to a voice.”
Treu also said that when layoffs occur, teacher performance should be taken into account, not just when they were hired. The judge said that if a high-quality junior teacher is laid off instead of a veteran, ineffective teacher, “the result is classroom disruption on two fronts.” It’s a “lose-lose situation” that “is unfathomable and therefore constitutionally unsupportable.”
Treu also discussed in his ruling the testimony that months of learning could be lost by a student if he or she is being taught by a bad teacher. He also said that teachers can receive fair evaluations based on analyzing stats such as student test scores.
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