State names districts in financial jeopardy
Posted in the Encino Forum
also Garvey school district
CALIFORNIA'S got problems, and in these times of budgetary woes it can be hard to focus on creative solutions beyond the merely monetary.
Initiatives that will make a difference to all of us in the long run. That aren't about just either raising taxes or slashing programs.
That offer hope to the future of our children through a better education for them.
So, good for a group of passionate reformers who, in this time of fiscal trouble, have taken a bold step toward fixing a systemic problem in California's schools:
The outdated, merely self-serving teacher- protection laws we're saddled with.
These laws take one key section of our economy and make it almost impossible to dismiss employees within it -
even when they are deemed "grossly ineffective" in their jobs,
which, after all, are the most important jobs out there.
After just 18 months of employment, California public school teachers can be granted tenure that essentially gives them permanent status.
When hard times hit, absurd last-in, first-out rules ensure that teachers who have simply hung around longest, rather than are the best at what they do, are the ones retained on our campuses.
The concept of tenure for educators is mostly bogus at the elementary and secondary level in the first place.
Tenure was created for our colleges and universities to protect freedom of speech and thought -
to ensure that professors who had gone through the decade-long rigors of original
research and a doctorate and proven ability to teach at the highest level were not capriciously dismissed by administrators who simply disagreed with their views.
Teachers, like the rest of us, need to have their freedom of speech protected. Unbreakable tenure is not required to do that.
So this week, a nonprofit created by Silicon Valley entrepreneur David Welch filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court to challenge the system that results in the retention of ineffective teachers. Called Students Matter, the organization gets funding from L.A. powerbroker Eli Broad, and has hired big-gun lawyers Ted Boutrous of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, and Ted Olsen, the former solicitor general for President George W. Bush.
"California's dismissal law, with its 10-step process laden with due process, can cost districts hundreds of thousands of dollars to fire a teacher on the grounds of unsatisfactory performance, which is why districts often work around it by paying teachers to retire or pushing them from one school to another," according to the California-centric blog Thoughts on Public Education.
Students named in the lawsuit are from Los Angeles Unified, Pasadena Unified, Sequoia Union High School District and Alum Rock Union Elementary District.
The suit and the education blog cite research by the Hoover Institution author Eric Hanushek, who finds that by dismissing only 6 to 10 percent of the weakest teachers, state students' academic achievement and long-term earnings as adults would increase dramatically.
What have we got to lose but our lousiest educators?
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