California Public School Students Suing Against Teacher Tenure

State DOE says nothing in the law prevents districts from removing bad teachers


get on the bus

An interesting lawsuit went to non-jury trial in a Los Angeles court room yesterday; nine public school students, with the support of an educational non-profit called "Students Matter," are suing the state of California over teacher tenure laws and other protections, which they argue prevent school administrators from removing dysfunctional teachers from the system. To skeptics of the eternally optimistic apologists of the government school system, the argument seems pretty open and shut. Tenure and the other public employee protections (which public unions call "due process" as if their jobs were rights and not privileges) make it difficult to remove teachers even in some of the most egregious cases. In 2012, LA Weekly reported the city's school district had 300 teachers in the "rubber rooms," where teachers go after they've been removed from the classroom but before they've had their "due process." According to LA Weekly, the average teacher spends 127 days hanging out in the rubber room, collecting full salary and benefits while "allegations" against them are investigated. It's a system that's pretty recognizably rigged in favor of the teacher and not the student, whose education can be severely handicapped by just one lousy teacher in one school year.

Nevertheless, the teachers union in California argues that teacher protections benefit students. Via Fox News Latino:

The California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers intervened and asked the court to throw out the lawsuit filed against the state, including the Department of Education, Gov. Jerry Brown and Superintendent of Public Education Tom Torlakson.

"It is deceptive and dishonest to pretend that teacher due process rights are unfair to students," said California Federation of Teachers President Josh Pechthalt, the parent of a ninth-grade student in the Los Angeles Unified School District. "Students need a stable, experienced teaching workforce. They won't have one if this lawsuit succeeds in gutting basic teacher rights."

So, teachers have more job security even though when they fail to do their jobs they risk the life-long income earning potentials of their students because that job security creates a stable workforce for them. It's a bizarre assertion that a labor organization meant to protect the financial interests of teachers as employees could somehow also protect the educational interests of students. Talk about decepitve. The judge rejected the union's motion to dismiss the case.

Over the weekend, the California Department of Education released a statement insisting there was "nothing in the law" that prevents districts "from removing teachers from the classroom when necessary." The students who have brought the matter to court, and their parents, disagree. That those who profit off the educational bureaucracy don't is no surprise.