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Teacher with students.
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge struck down California's teacher tenure laws Tuesday in Vergara v. California, a closely watched case funded by Silicon Valley entrepreneur David Welch as an attack on teachers and their unions:
Observers on both sides expect the case to generate dozens more like it in cities and states around the country. David Welch, a Silicon Valley technology magnate who financed the organization that is largely responsible for bringing the Vergara case to court — Students Matter — has indicated that his group is open to funding other similar legal fights, particularly in states with powerful teachers’ unions where legislatures have defeated attempts to change teacher tenure laws.
The fact that states with unionized teachers have, on the whole, better educational outcomes than states without binding contracts for teachers makes the political agenda behind Welch's crusade clear. This is not about improving education, it's about attacking teachers. Asked about its likely outcomes after the case had been argued and the judge's leaning became clear:
“It’s certainly not going to improve education,” said Stanford professor Linda Darling-Hammond, who co-directed the National Commission on Teaching & America’s Future, directed President Obama’s 2008/2009 education transition team, and last month testified for the Vergara defense. [...]

There’s a long history in education of teachers being able to be dismissed — and in fact, that’s still the case in many states which don’t have due process protections — for reasons other than competence. And that can include, you know, politics — not working for the right school board member in the elections. It can include getting pregnant or married, and the school board deciding you’re not going to give as much time [to work]. It can include teaching the wrong book, et cetera. And I think if we end up in a place … where we have no protection against firing for reasons other than competence, teaching — which is already a fairly unattractive occupation because of all the teacher-bashing that’s going on — will become an even more unattractive occupation.

In March, Dante Atkins wrote:
California's schools were among the best in the nation all the way through the 1970s, when voters approved Proposition 13, which significantly decreased the amount of revenue collected from property taxes and prevented local governments from passing their own local measures to raise revenues without having at least a two-thirds supermajority vote. Perhaps Students Matter could file a lawsuit against Proposition 13 instead?
The decision will be appealed, but it will also doubtless lead to countless other court cases, targeting not the weakest educational systems in the country, but the strongest teachers unions.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 11:52 AM PDT.

Also republished by California politics and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Title is ineffective. (7+ / 0-)

    It's actually tenure/unions that are being attacked and the title should say so.

    Another case of attacking teachers for what are most truly structural and systemic problems.

    "You cannot win improv." Stephen Colbert (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6tiaooiIo0 at 16:24).

    by Publius2008 on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 11:59:42 AM PDT

  •  All the way through the 1970's (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    johnny wurster, VClib, pngai
    California's schools were among the best in the nation all the way through the 1970s, when the legislature passed the EERA establishing collective bargaining in California's public schools.
    FTFY.
  •  The article in the link (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eztempo, Matthew D Jones, grimjc

    has numerous references to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan "an enthusiastic supporter of the case". What role did Duncan or the Obama Administration play in this case?

    "let's talk about that" uid 92953

    by VClib on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 03:16:37 PM PDT

  •  The judge sounds like a piece of work (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matthew D Jones, MJB, Piren, Mostel26, jbsoul

    A quick look at one judiciary watchdog site's comments raises some serious questions about the temperament and even-handedness of Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu, the guy that handed down this ruling:

    "Right-wingers will continue to seek him out and hope that he'll be the one trying their cases.

    A man like this does not belong in the judiciary."

    "If you follow the Code of Civil Procedure and the California Rules of Court, you will be fine in this courtroom. Make sure you actually meet and confer before you file your CMC statement. At summary judgment, make certain that your documents are properly formatted according to the code and rules of court. He is a stickler for rules/procedure, but I actually appreciate that about him."
    "This judge is vindictive and eager to issue sanctions. I've been in his courtroom on a number of matters, and rarely does a morning calendar happen without at least three parties being sanctioned. He is a blight on the judicial system and should be removed."
    "Judge Treu knows the Code of Civil Procedure and Court Rules by heart, and expects everyone else to know them equally well. He lives to find breaches of the rules, and will issue monetary sanctions for any violation, no matter how trivial. I guess he believes that will make us better lawyers, and maybe he is right. He reminds me of the stereotypical school teacher that walks around with a ruler, and whacks any kid who talks in class. If you can get past being treated like an undisciplined child, and not like an adult and professional (and he treats everyone that way, no matter how adult and professional), then you could do worse..."
    "difficult, inflexible, predisposed to use rules to deny relief rather than address merits, definitely not user friendly nor does he appear interested in being user friendly"
    "He is probably 170.6 worhty if there weren't so many other horrible judges in Central. He has a nasty disposition and he is petty. If you can get past that, he is an average judge."
    Whatever the value of the testimony of lawyers that have been before Judge Treu, at least we can deduce that they guy bears some looking into.
    •  The Judge uses a non-word (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eztempo

      "paradigmatized" at line 13 on page 7 of his opinion.  That tells you something.

    •  Treu was appointed to Muni Ct, never promoted. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Piren, eztempo

      Judge Treu was appointed to Municipal Court (traffic tickets, misdemeanors, etc.) by GOP governor Pete Wilson in 1995.

      Many of the Muni Court judges were graded well as they learned judging, and were promoted to Superior Court after 2-3 years.

      Judge Treu was never promoted.  He became a Superior Court judge only when the trial courts were "unified" in 2000 and all of the Muni Court judges became Superior Court judges.

      But he'll be a right-wing hero now.  He can leave the bench if he wants and get a sweet gig with Fox News Channel, no doubt.

      Please help to fight hunger in the U.S. by making a donation to Feeding America.

      by MJB on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 07:26:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Judge Treu (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VClib, nextstep, eztempo, jbsoul

      I can't really comment on the merits of this case but I can speak about Judge Treu.  I've tried a case before Judge Treu and I'd say he is a very good judge.  

      He follows the rules, so attorneys who are sloppy or  don't bother with them have trouble in his court room.  

      He also doesn't have a lot of patience for attorneys who can't bother looking up the rules and sort of wing it.   I don't agree with the comment above that enforcing the rules is "petty."   The rules guide the process.  Aren't jurists supposed to enforce the rules?    A lot of the rules have reasons for them, good reasons. Anyway, IMO its sort of annoying to do the work to get things right and some bozo files his papers late or screws up something else and have some judge tell you it doesn't matter because the case will settle anyway so who cares.  

      Here in LA county, we've a big (IMO) problem with lawyers cheating their way through cases (say for example not turning over evidence which would damage their case) and True's courtroom is one place where that rarely works.  He might be wrong but he is a straight shooter, from all I've seen and heard.

      He gets impatient but since True actually does his work, he's under constant time pressures.  Remove those and his short manner would adjust, I'm sure.  

      Believe me, there are far, far worse judges in LA county than Treu.  

      Treu mainly represented plaintiffs before becoming a judge is what I recall.

      He's also semi famous as a Judge who rides his bike to work.  

      “Everyone is ignorant, only on different subjects.” ― Will Rogers

      by MugWumpBlues on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 07:38:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  MWB - that's what I got from reading the comments (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        eztempo, jbsoul

        This is a judge who will not tolerate sloppy work and submissions to the court. There is a lot of sloppy legal work in CA state trial courts that receives a pass from the judiciary. In federal trial court nearly every judge has the same standards as Judge Treu.

        "let's talk about that" uid 92953

        by VClib on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 08:29:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for your 1st hand comments (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jbsoul

        Not being a lawyer and my only exposure to the judges down at Stanley Mosk being a couple of stints as a prospective juror, I was curious about the judge that waxed so eloquently.  I'm usually pretty skeptical about blind Internet reviews so it's good to have a Kossack's view of the man.

        So, procedurally, he's a stickler.  What about that appointment by Pete Wilson -- the governor whose racism kissed off the Hispanic community for Republicans for a generation at least?  That indicate he's got an ideological bent in a case like this?

  •  The decision does not mean that CA can't have (12+ / 0-)

    teacher tenure, it means that the WAY teacher tenure is implemented prevents the educational system from being effective and efficient, and is unconstitutional for that reason.

    Their real God is money-- Jesus just drives the armored car, and his hat is made in China. © 2009 All Rights Reserved

    by oblomov on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 06:39:43 PM PDT

    •  The judge says... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Matthew D Jones, jbsoul

      ...specifically that the problem is not enough good teachers in poor districts.

      So, let the teachers have their lifetime jobs...but they must do some duty in the tough schools.

      The best teachers with the most experience should be in the toughest schools. The Teach For America kids should be in the suburbs.

      We need to have Tenure because otherwise the teachers will all be replaced with political toadies.

    •  The decision is nonsense (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      calwatch, Mostel26

      Public employees can be accorded property rights in their continued employment by act of the legislature. Once that happens, their employment cannot be terminated for cause without due process. The US Constitution establishes minimum due process, but a state is free to provide process above the minimum. First case I have ever seen where a court ruled that a legislature could be prohibited from providing more procedural protection than the constitutionally required minimum.

      •  Read the decision (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Linda Wood

        The court did not rule that the existing policies were inherently illegal. It ruled that the policies effectively violated the constitutional rights of the students.

        The state is not prohibited from providing additional procedural protections, but it must not do so at the expense of the rights of the students.

        •  Nonsense (0+ / 0-)

          Totally unsupported by the facts and legally unsustainable . No plaintiff showed any damage linked to these laws. How do procedural protections for teachers hurt kids? The fav ct that some cases take a long time does not render the statute unconstitutional. This was a political decision by an a like minded ideological judge.

  •  Back to the Casting Couch for teacher promotions! (6+ / 0-)

    You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours.

    Why would any sane person want to be a teacher in this time?

    •  perhaps a sane teacher would like sane coworkers (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      J Ash Bowie, bobtmn

      It doesn't help teachers when they are in a school where the worst teachers get shuffled because they can't be fired.  If you were a teacher, perhaps you'd rather have a motivated, hardworking peer than be stuck in a failing school that is also being used as a reserve for the least helpful peer teachers in the district.

    •  I want to support teachers (9+ / 0-)

      and I don't want to support right-wing billionaires or AstroTurf organizations, but I'm not finding a compelling argument for why we need tenure at the K-12 level (professors at the college level are a different matter, it seems to me).

      Your argument, which I've seen others make today, is that teachers won't be protected from unscrupulous supervisors who want them to trade personal favors for promotions. If I understand, you're even implying sexual favors.

      Is there a reason this is any more a concern for teachers than it is for any other public employee or those of us working in the private sector? There are certain legal and social protections against that kind of unethical behavior, and most of us have to rely on those. I've never heard anybody suggest the tenure model is an appropriate remedy for such abuses in, say, the accounting profession or the medical industry.

      Is there something that makes teaching different? I understand the argument that professors at a university need tenure to ensure they can do research and write books that might be controversial or offend the establishment without fear of retaliation, but I don't see how that really applies to teachers of K-12. I'm sure it's nice to have that kind of protection, but if it comes at the cost of keeping bad teachers on staff, or if it encourages people to join the profession because they hope to someday have a secure job regardless of their commitment, then I would hope there would be a more compelling argument in favor of the tenure model.

      If you can provide that argument I'm ready to be educated. Like I said, taking the side of some right-wing billionaire against teachers and unions is not a comfortable place for me.

      •  Why Have Tenure (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Max Udargo, jbsoul, Mostel26

        Teachers are basically in a political position. The things they do affect people and the community at large. Often a teacher has to do unpopular things, like give bad grades to the child of a politically powerful parent. Without tenure, something like that could cost a teacher's job.

        Teachers need the freedom to also express unpopular ideas, like evolution or climate change. Tenure gives me that right to do that safely. That doesn't mean I should stay stupid things, but I need the right to be unpopular.

        If a teacher isn't free to experiment with new ideas, he/she will become stifled and unwilling to take risks. By risks, I mean experimenting new ways to teach a subject. This is something a person should not be penalized for.

        The percentage of “bad” teachers is small. It's certainly not the majority of teachers. Is it right to punish the majority for a small minority? If I did that as a teacher, punishing the class for a few disruptive students, I'd get in a lot of trouble. Why is it okay to do that to teachers?

        I'd say more, but I have to leave now and go teach.

        •  Ok. (0+ / 0-)

          So you've given an answer to the question "what makes teaching different?" You're saying teaching is a political position (basically) and teachers need protection when they do unpopular things.

          I'm imagining a scenario where a wealthy and influential parent is angry that his child has been given a failing grade and the teacher refuses to change it.

          I guess my first reaction is that our society is structured to deal with such conflicts in a reasonable and fair way without the need for the tenure model. Students and their parents certainly have the right to challenge a teacher's decision. When such a challenge is made I expect there to be a process to evaluate the challenge that allows for rational escalation when the sides can't agree, with the issue ultimately being decided by an administrator (the principal?) based on arguments presented by both sides.

          I suppose the teacher could have the ultimate authority to make the decision, but in that case I would expect the school administrators to respect that authority and back the teacher.

          If there was a political price to pay, so be it. If that means the influential parent is going to pressure an elected school board member to replace a principal, then it becomes a political issue that must be addressed by voters in the next election.

          None of this implies the need for the tenure model.

          But I understand I'm talking in abstractions, and not from experience in education, which I do not have.

          So this is an argument I have to consider, but I wish it were more substantial in the sense that it could be shown that scenarios like the above are real concerns that teachers of K-12 routinely face. Because I still have the feeling that tenure is more likely to protect a bad teacher than a good teacher.

          I agree with the idea of protecting teachers from political or social pressure to compromise their educational decisions, but I'm not sure the tenure model is the best answer. It seems to have been borrowed from the university level as a solution to problems that should be resolved in a more direct way.

          Maybe it's simply a matter of semantics. Maybe calling it "tenure" implies something beyond due process and academic independence, and maybe that's confusing people like me.

      •  It's clear you don't understand the issues (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        drmah, jbsoul, Mostel26

        So I'm going to  suggest reading Linda darling Hammond and Diane Ravitch's work in this area, google them. There were sound reasons for tenure's creation, and the reasons for it have not changed. If teachers controlled the schools and set policy and designed curriculum, and all the tests used to judge them, then maybe tenure ( the right to a hearing when dismissed ) would not be so vital. But they don't. Every asinine idea that comes down the pike is foisted upon the teachers, and those who know it is bullshit and won't go along are able to save their own kids through the protection of tenure. I am glad I have 25 years in and will get out of this mess soon ( if Christie doesn't steal the pension money ) by the way I am a social worker not a teacher, and no one is going after my license or judging my competence based on how my students are doing. Nor are they interested in psychologists or guidance counselors. it is only teachers they bash. And wwho will watchdog the incompetent administrators? Of which there are many? this is about all power to management. As if teachers should even have managers. As if they should not run the schools themselves. What a terrible time to be a teacher. As Darling Hammond said, even fewer people will want to do this. I would never encourage a youngster to be a teacher. I wouldn't even encourage one to remain in the USA if he/she could get out.

        •  Why Have Tenure (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          drmah, jbsoul

          It should be repeated that tenure for public school teachers is not the guarantee of a job: it's the guarantee of seniority.

          While the argument that seniority is not a good way to measure teacher effectiveness has its points, the problem is that nobody's come up with a better one. None of the teaching grading systems are without serious flaws. In an imperfect world, seniority and observations are probably the best way to determine teacher effectiveness. That's what tenure protects.

          •  No, Tenure is a guarentee of "Due Process." Listen (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jbsoul, Mostel26

            to the horror stories of earlier teachers who didn't have such protection.

            Even with such protection, I had to fight for my job when my principal wanted to put his girlfriend in my position.

            •  I should add unqualified girlfriend was being (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              jbsoul, Mostel26

              touted for my position which required extra college preparation position.  

            •  Your boss wanting to hire his girlfriend (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              drmah, Linda Wood

              is not a problem properly addressed by you having tenure. The problem is the school has a principal who tries to replace you with his unqualified girlfriend. That's a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

              Any of my bosses during my lifetime could have replaced me with his or her girlfriend or boyfriend. That never happened because that would have been irresponsible and unprofessional. Is there some reason school principals are more likely to behave in such a way? If so, it seems to me that is a problem which needs to be resolved directly, not dodged by giving teachers some insularity against the behavior.

        •  First, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Linda Wood

          I'll look up Linda Hammon and Diane Ravitch as you suggest. I think it is likely that you are correct that I don't understand the issues.

          But the rest of your post sounds a lot like the petulant rant of somebody who feels entitled to things he shouldn't.

          If you were a teacher, you would resent your supervisors and people with authority over you. You would resent being judged based on how your students are doing. You would resent the many incompetent administrators. You would resent the very idea that teachers have managers and you believe that teachers should "run the schools themselves."

          I can relate. I've had bosses I resented and there have been times I've felt my contributions weren't being properly and fairly judged. And I've always felt things would be better if everybody would just get out of the way and let me take over and run things. I've felt that way since I was about 16 years old.

          But I never concluded that the solution to these problems was to make it more difficult for my boss to fire me.

          I don't mean to be a jerk about this. It sounds like you've had a long career and it's ending in bitterness. That's unfortunate and I'm sorry. But I still don't see a good argument here for why tenure is the best response to your frustrations.

          However, like I said, I'll check into the sources you cited.

          •  Not entitled. EARNED. People here don't seem to (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mostel26

            understand the basics of vocabulary. You are comparing apples to oranges. Petulant? You sound like an ignorant as to me. I've given you the names of people who know a lot fuckingmore about this than you. Go read them and then come back. After you realize how utterly stupid your comments are, we can have a discussion. I won't hold your ignorance against you.

            •  that should read "ignorant ass" just to be clear (0+ / 0-)
              •  You might be right about the tenure issue. (0+ / 0-)

                That doesn't change the fact that you're an obnoxious jackass. I suspect whatever problems you've encountered in your career have more to do with that than anything else. I'm glad you're not a teacher, because you'd be an awful one.

                I'm a little ashamed for not having the discipline to ignore you at this point, but I'm having a bad day and I'm calculating that the cathartic reward of this response will outweigh the shame.

  •  I think I've had enough bad news today. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    EducatetheMasses

    I'm done.

    "The soil under the grass is dreaming of a young forest, and under the pavement the soil is dreaming of grass."--Wendell Berry

    by Wildthumb on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 07:03:58 PM PDT

  •  The 1% , doing their best (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grimjc, Mostel26, unionblue

    to make the 99% too stupid to protect their own interests.

    American Presidents: 43 men, 0 women. Ready for Hillary

    by atana on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 07:11:31 PM PDT

  •  stay home (7+ / 0-)

    As the US bashes teachers, forgetting just who taught them to read and write, my  suggestion (which I doubt will be followed by my fellow teachers), is to simply walk off the job and tell parents they will have  to  teach their children themselves.

    Other countries, such as South Korea, value their teachers and consider them nation builders.  We, on the other hand, have been, and still are, afraid of learning -  neglecting the fact that it is directly tied to earning. As we worship the dollar (save money hire cheap part time teachers), and dismiss successful teachers, we cut off our nose in order to spite our (collective) face.

    •  Respect has to be earned and is a two way street (5+ / 0-)

      I only have a good view of the American education system.

      But my outsiders view of the education system within many other nations is that both the teachers are given more respect, and they deserve more.

      A well trained, professional, intelligent and committed crop of teachers is indeed an essential part of a high functioning society.

      The problem is that our current teachers on average do not fit those criteria at all.

      When my nieces and nephews, past personal experience, stories from close personal friends who are teachers and thousands of anecdotal examples of teachers phoning it in (ie the last two weeks ive heard of at least 5 examples where teachers simply played movies for the last two weeks of classes). Teachers as a whole do not get respect at least partially because their profession is currently failing to act respectable.

      •  Okay, let's talk about that (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        spritegeezer, Piren, Mostel26
        The problem is that our current teachers on average do not fit those criteria at all.
        I'm not convinced that this is the case, but let's leave that aside for argument's sake.

        Those other countries also dedicate resources not only to education itself, but also to other social problems that impact on education.

        That has become anathema in this country. We want top-notch public education (rightly so), but want it increasingly on the cheap.

        I would argue that teaching, on the whole, has never really been respected in this country. Not the way we respect other professions.

        Procrastination: Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.

        by Linnaeus on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 07:50:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  not exactly true (0+ / 0-)

          "Those other countries also dedicate resources not only to education itself, but also to other social problems that impact on education.

          That has become anathema in this country. We want top-notch public education (rightly so), but want it increasingly on the cheap.

          "

          That claim that the U.S. spends little sounded fishy to me so i googled it.

          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

          The US spends a boat load on our system, yet we still get poor performance.

          •  Couple of points also in the article (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mostel26

            1. Education spending has dropped in the US.

            2. Private funding is a significant part of educational funding in the US. Where is that money going?

            It's also not clear if the report distinguishes between public and private education.

            Procrastination: Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.

            by Linnaeus on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 08:08:41 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Either way, in (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              nextstep

              general other nations spend less and get better results. Although not proof it does suggest that just spending more is not the solution.

              •  There's a couple of open questions, though (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Mostel26

                Yes, how you spend money is as important as how much you spend. So your point is well-taken. But, again, it's not clear from the article if private education is included. That would likely skew the spending numbers (it's not clear how the averages were found - those can be deceiving due to outliers).

                I would suspect, also, that many of the countries profiled in the report have protections for teachers that some of the folks here on this thread oppose.

                Also, there are other factors that contribute to educational outcomes. We don't deal with those as well in this country as we should.

                 

                Procrastination: Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.

                by Linnaeus on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 08:28:19 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  There are many other factors (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  bobtmn

                  as per your question, does it include private or not? The study itself should be at least consistent to have any value, but to give a more accurate representation ALL money spent should be taken into consideration. Due to the private nature of some aspects of the U.S. education system, if it does not include private funds, that would increase the extra funding the U.S. is spending and not getting performance from.

                  I really enjoy the idea of unions. However in the United States teachers have outright failed to police themselves as such the current batch have proved themselves unworthy of that privilege.

                  Just look at the fight over standardize testing. Literally every single other true profession uses standardized testing to test the quality of its members.

                  Yet many teachers actively fight against this despite it being by definition a requirement to be considered profession.

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/...

              •  Wrong. Spending on higher ed in the US skews the (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Mostel26

                numbers. You have to llok at how money is directed toward actual students k-12. And other countries don't waste ( yes, waste ) money on sports.

                •  Did you bother to read? (0+ / 0-)

                  the part where it broke down the spending by grade level and the U.S. was still on top? and the part where the report breaks it down by core and ancillary services?

                  My guess is you didnt and are providing another perfect example of the failed education system in the U.S.

                  Ill make it easier for you to educate yourself on the topic.

                  http://www.oecd.org/...(eng)--FINAL%2020%20June%202013.pdf

                  Page 162

            •  The US spends the most per student in the world (0+ / 0-)

              The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

              by nextstep on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 10:47:31 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Today's teachers are the most professionally (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jbsoul, Mostel26

          trained in American history. They often don't have the highest SAT scores, and most are first generation college grads. Most went to public schools and are shining examples of the success of public schools. Oh, I am not a teacher by the way. But people are not interested in facts when rhetoric will do. Good luck with the untrained, low pay temp teacher America.

    •  In cases such as these... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jbsoul

      ...walking off the job may play exactly into the hands of folks behind legislation such as this.  Their ultimate end game is to break the teachers' unions.

      I'm reminded a bit of what Reagan did with the air traffic controllers in the 1980s.

      Thanks for joining the dk conversation.

      Welcome to Daily Kos. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Community Guidelines, the Knowledge Base, and the Site Resource Diaries. Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.
      ~~ from the DK Partners & Mentors Team.

      Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

      by a gilas girl on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 07:26:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What are the legal grounds? (0+ / 0-)

    It would help to know the legal issues in this case. Is it a bad set of laws, or is it bad interpretation of laws?

    Censorship is rogue government.

    by scott5js on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 07:17:21 PM PDT

    •  The latter. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26

      But the danger is that the appellate courts will uphold the result while cleaning up Judge Treu's dubious reasoning and strengthening the legal basis for it.

      The central problem, from a judicial perspective, is that it sets up a situation where, if this ruling stands on appeal, the courts will essentially be overseers of any "replacement" laws.  

      A likely scenario, if Judge Treu's ruling survives on appeal, is that the legislature will pass modified tenure, discipline, and seniority rules for teachers, and the wingnuts will immediately run to court to ask that the new rules be struck down.

      Please help to fight hunger in the U.S. by making a donation to Feeding America.

      by MJB on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 07:30:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The legal grounds are (get this)... (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bobtmn, untorqued, nextstep, pngai, scott5js

      ...CIVIL RIGHTS.

      The judge says that tenure rules shove the worst teachers into the schools with the poorest kids.

      This violates the kids' right to an education.

      “Substantial evidence presented makes it clear to this court that the challenged statutes disproportionately affect poor and/or minority students..."
      Which, of course is true. We don't like to admit it on DKos, but "Education Reform" is becoming a struggle between the interests of poor families in bad school districts and white-collar Teacher's Union members:

       -  One group provides Progressives with millions of votes.
       -  The other provides us with money and activists.

      We need to broker a deal between these two parts of our coalition or else the Republicans will turn it into a wedge.

      •  Typical False Choice (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        fenway49, jbsoul, Mostel26

        Teacher unions and teachers are not the problem. The education reformers are the problem. The goal of reform" is not to improve education. You don't improve a workforce by paying it less and taking away its job protections. The real goal of reform is to to privatize and profitize education. We see that in NYC, where charters, contrary to their legal obligations, fail to educate representative populations of special needs kid and English Language Learners, and go to court to keep their finances from being audited by the state.

      •  Wedge: Kids v. Teachers (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mostel26

        “While this decision is not unexpected, the rhetoric and lack of a thorough, reasoned opinion is disturbing. For example, the judge believes that due process is essential, but his objection boils down to his feeling that two years is not long enough for probation. He argues, as we do, that no one should tolerate bad teachers in the classroom. He is right on that. But in focusing on these teachers who make up a fraction of the workforce, he strips the hundreds of thousands of teachers who are doing a good job of any right to a voice. In focusing on who should be laid off in times of budget crises, he omits the larger problem at play: full and fair funding of our schools so all kids have access to the classes—like music, art and physical education—and opportunities they need."

        - Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers

        Solidarity forever, for the Union makes us strong.

        by Oh Dannyboy on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 05:42:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Randi is missing the point. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          PeteCA
          "In focusing on who should be laid off in times of budget crises, he omits the larger problem at play: full and fair funding of our schools so all kids have access to the classes—like music, art and physical education—and opportunities they need."
          When the "budget crisis" comes, its sad. I wish it never happened. We should raise taxes and spend more on schools so the "budget crises" is avoided.

          But that's not the issue before the court!

          The issue is, when it is time for layoffs, who do we layoff?

          I humbly submit that using "seniority" as the sole measure of who to layoff is not in the best interests of the kids.

          •  "sole" criteria (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jbsoul, Mostel26

            Seniority is never the sole criteria used in deciding RIFs/layoffs. The statute allows the school district to consider the teacher's certification, special experience or training, and "the needs of the district and the students thereof.”  

            Solidarity forever, for the Union makes us strong.

            by Oh Dannyboy on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 12:40:06 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Budget Crisis as HR tool (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jbsoul, Mostel26

            Why should a budget crisis be used to determine who is more effective? The RIF statute was never intended to serve as a substitute process for dismissing underperforming teachers; that is the purpose of the dismissal statutes. Seniority is an objective criterion for layoff that is easily understood and applied, when layoffs are unavoidable.

            Solidarity forever, for the Union makes us strong.

            by Oh Dannyboy on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 12:47:07 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  well, the Detroit pensioners had Constitutional (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mostel26

        rights too. Didn't mean shit did it? The wealthy will twist the law any old way so that in the end they get CHEAP LABOR.

  •  Teaching, as a profession in the U.S., is over. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mindtrain, jbsoul

    n/t

    "Soylent Green is people too, my friend!" Guess Who

    by oldmaestro on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 07:25:53 PM PDT

  •  Not policing themselves (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VClib, Piren, mdriftmeyer, Mostel26

    My son had a teacher who had a toilet brush spray painted gold hanging on the classroom wall. She told all the kids if they did not pass her English class, that would be their future.

    This "teacher" had a "problem" with my son, the principle we tried to work things out with was also the head of the English department. She backed the instructor, saying she was close to retirement and don't rock the boat. I told her my son had his life in front of him and she should be looking out for the kids, no kids—no being a principle.

    So my kid goes in early every day for six months does excellent work and the "teacher" gave him an F-minus.
    So we go back to the principle and ask what's an F-minus?
    She just laughed, so I called the district and had a chat with her boss.

    Two hours later I get a ranting principle telling me "how DARE you call my boss", and I just laughed and told her should remember who she works for—the kids parents.

    I would tell you the only word in the English language that has all the vowels in order but, that would be facetious.

    by roninkai on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 07:26:43 PM PDT

    •  You did the right thing (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nominalize, jbsoul

      That principle is the exact problem with the system; ineffective administration failing to supervise staff according to the contract. Proper supervision of that staff member would have made that toilet brush removed from the classroom about 2 seconds after the first complaint.......or possibly the first time an administrator saw it in the room.

      None of the stories such as yours are attributable to tenure / job protections in and of themselves; they always due to poor supervision / supervisors.

      I'm hopeful there was some positive movement on behalf of your son and other students.

    •  your kid did not do excellent work for 6 months (0+ / 0-)

      and get an F. After 25 years, I can spot a parent whose kid never does wrong. By the way in my first school district the guy with the toilet brush was paid more than me.

  •  Tenure isn't the problem. I live in a state wit... (9+ / 0-)

    Tenure isn't the problem.

    I live in a state with no teachers' union (they're illegal) and no real protections, yet when parents complain about an incompetent educator they are told by the principal that it's "too hard" to fire a teacher. No, it's "too hard" for principals to do their job and observe, report and document. They want an easy way to fire teachers without going to the difficultly of actually doing their jobs. Sorry to generalize, but I'm sick of hearing unions bashed on this issue.

  •  The battle was lost a while ago (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Piren, nominalize, Hollowdweller, jbsoul

    This battle was lost a while ago. Despite what some people say, and despite what some may say to me in reply to this comment, Americans generally do not care about the education of any children other than their own.

    Sure, they will say positive things in the abstract, but they are not interested in paying for it. They like corporate charters because corporate charters are not asking them for more money.

    The public relations battle over public education was lost a while ago, year ago. The general public believes, in the absence of evidence, that the only problem with public education is that unions protect incompetent teachers. They believe it with a passion so intense that you cannot change their minds, or their voting behavior.

    You can show them that schools with teachers who are not unionized perform worse than those who are unionized. They ignore it and change the subject. You can show them that the only "failing schools" are schools where poor peoples' children attend. They don't accept that poverty creates problems for educators.

    To the great majority of Americans who vote, public education is of no benefit. It is only a part of their taxes that are wasted on things they don't care about.

    The history of music is mortal, but the idiocy of the guitar is eternal. ― Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

    by James Earl on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 07:27:28 PM PDT

  •  This is depressing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mostel26, jbsoul

    When did teachers become the bad guys in all this?

    This is all about scapegoating.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 07:42:22 PM PDT

    •  It's not about all teachers (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      calwatch, bobtmn

      it's about bad teachers.  I would think teachers would best understand that distinction and would support it. Ridding the profession of quack teachers would greatly enhance the public's respect of teachers.

      And yes, it's not the only problem with public education and it won't provide a sufficient fix of the system.  But that doesn't mean we shouldn't do something about it.

    •  Years ago. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, jbsoul, leftangler, Mostel26

      I heard a report about education reform back in the day.  They started by criticizing corrupt or ineffective administrators, but it didn't take.

      But once they started on teachers, it caught on like wildfire.

      I think our society hasn't respected teachers for a lot longer than we realize.  (It probably doesn't help that at early years it's a nearly solely feminine profession).  Why is an interesting question.  

      I don't know if that's changing with younger generations.  Hopefully.

      Nobody deserves poverty.

      by nominalize on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 03:38:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I clicked on this... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pngai, Susan G in MN

    ...after reading the headline and noticing the author and expected the headline to not accurately represent the case.

    I was not disappointed.

    •  If it is not a diary bashing the GOP, the front (0+ / 0-)

      pagers struggle.

      New Republic: So are the left-wing blogs as bad as the Tea Party ones in this case? -------------------------Chuck Schumer: Left-wing blogs are the mirror image. They just have less credibility and less clout.

      by AlexDrew on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 08:01:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is far from over (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mostel26

    This will be appealed and likely go through the courts for the next few years.

  •  I completely agree with this judgement (9+ / 0-)

    I consider myself reasonably progressive. I hate what the GOP has turned into. I'm pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, pro-decriminalization of drugs, etc.

    I also think that the teachers union, along with others, have completely crippled California.

    CA teachers are generally well-paid (I ought to know, my wife is a former teacher). Do they make as much as doctors and lawyers? No. But neither do I, as a seasoned and experienced engineer.  The vast majority of teachers enjoy a comfortable wage compared to their cohorts in the private sector. The market is harsh, but generally fair.

    Schools, by their nature, are a meritocracy for the students. They are graded and evaluated ad nauseam, and they are also frequently disciplined, suspended, expelled, and shuffled off to the "special" schools for problem kids. Meanwhile, the best, brightest, and hardest-working kids are generally (albeit not always) rewarded.

    Why should the teachers expect to be treated so many times better than the students they are supposed to teach.

    The judge in this case made a particularly poignant fact. Teachers that are demonstrably inefficient at their jobs enjoy tremendously greater amounts of protection and "due process" than any other state employees at any level.

    I sincerely respect and support teachers, but the bad apples that are currently being protected by these bad policies are not deserving of the title.

    •  In all fairness... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ManhattanMan, eumaies

      I should add that not all "bad" teachers are bad people. I'm sure that the large majority of them are decent, caring individuals who got into teaching with a sincere intent to help kids. That said, they might still be bad teachers.

      If I had, miraculously, gotten a job with a ballet company 25 years ago when I was young, in-shape and had the slightest modicum of rhythm, I should not expect that I would be allowed to stay with the company indefinitely as my waistline got progressively larger and my lack of dancing ability became more and more painfully obvious.

      I am employed in a profession where I perform the tasks that I am good at, and my many shortcomings are forgiven. Many "teachers" should be encouraged to do the same.

      •  Totally agree (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bobtmn

        I've met and worked alongside some very nice people who happened to be pretty bad at teaching.  It's not the end of the world to have some minimum standards, however imperfect.  Someone else who really shines at it should get a chance at teaching kids, rather than "last in, first out".

        •  these are not minimum standards (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mostel26

          they are talking about making at will arbitrary employment the norm. I hope you all like it when your kids have 4 or 5 teachers in a year.

          •  "they"? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Linda Wood

            an intelligent policy is somewhere between extremely impractical to fire anyone and incredibly easy to fire anyone.

            Defending stupid policies is not going to help teachers retain appropriate workplace protections.

            The fact that some teachers unions fight tooth and nail against even mild reforms is not helping them represent teachers' job protections in the long run.  Yes, they can win some short term battles, but in the end this is a political debate and you better have an idea for what a good policy ought to look like if you want to win a political debate.  The current policies are not sensible and are bad for kids.

    •  The bad apples are... (0+ / 0-)

      ...very rare.

      Most bad teaching is the result of bad administration, management, and incentives.  And by "most", I mean 99.9%.

      There are 6,000,000 teachers in the US. We can't just fire the worst 10%, even if we could agree on how to identify them. Instead we need to build systems that enable all teachers to add value.

      •  vast hyperbole (0+ / 0-)

        there are ineffective employees in every job under the sun.  You wouldn't want to work in a job with un-motivated people and neither would I.  Part of the success of a public sector organization is people management, and if you can't prioritize hiring talented new hires over the bottom 5% of your current employees, you are shortchanging the public.  Being in a job where no one can ever get fired is not a healthy work environment for anyone - good teachers or less good.

        Witness the current VA scandal for another case where a public sector organization is completely unable to manage due to extreme restrictions.  Yes, the VA should be funded more, but it's no accident they also can't manage themselves well.

        •  Education... (0+ / 0-)

          ...is not like running a business because it is so large.

          The "bottom 5%" is 300,000 people! That's 1/6th of all this year's college graduates!

          (By the way, why 5%? Why not 6% or 2%?)

          The Jack Welch and One-Minute Manager stuff won't work here. It's different.

          •  a couple things (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            PeteCA

            first, not all fired teachers are replaced with new graduates, same as in any field.

            Second, there is a shortage of teachers and to the extent that's true schools will have very little incentive to fire teachers willy nilly, even if the process becomes a reasonable and balanced process.  So your response is a good reason to not think this will be horribly damaging to the vast majority of teachers.  

            With the current firing rules in many cities, I think you're basically defending the indefensible.  I don't disagree reformers will take this too far, but progressives should support good policy, not broken systems.

        •  here we go again (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mostel26

          who said anything about not being able to fire anyone? if you don't know what you are talking about, why comment?

    •  This is not really about bad teachers, it is about (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26

      privatizing the teaching force into temp workers, which is what the reformers want. CHEAP LABOR. Any serious study of tenure done by scholars DOES NOT BACK UP THE JUDGE"S ASSERTIONS. After listening to an in-depth discussion on Bloomberg News of the case, that is more obvious than ever. I urge you to find the podcast on Bloomberg and listen to it. Did you ever ask why tenure came about? Do you think it was invented by teachers and awarded to them because society just loved them all so much. Does anyone on this site take the time to FUCKING READ THE HISTORY OF ANY FUCKINGTHING????

  •  Not Sympathetic to Teachers on This (10+ / 0-)

    In no other field does one get lifetime guaranteed employment if you can work for 2 years without screwing up.  The LIFO also hurts the system keeping the clock punchers in their jobs while the enthusiastic young teachers are fired just based on strict seniority and not merit.  Teachers do deserve to be protected from political or other maliciously motivated firing, but we have a situation in LA where we have teachers who are on leave for serious misconduct sitting around in a rubber room getting a paycheck for months or years as their appeals drag on.  This doesn't happen in any normal job, and I don't see why teachers need to be placed on some sort of employment pedestal the rest of us don't enjoy either in the public or private sector.  I attended public schools in California all my life and my three children are in public school, so I've got a lot of skin in the game.  The students should come first, and incompetent teachers or teachers who are so burned out they don't care anymore should not be able to hide behind tenure and stay in their jobs.  There are bad teachers, not everyone is a saint.

    •   (6+ / 0-)

      Because EVERYONE should be demanding the same protections, rather than rip it from a group that HAS it. I shake my head every time someone says "I don't have that so everyone who does should lose it" Get some balls and demand it via a UNION.

      •  Right... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jbsoul

        Because every organization, public and private, should be operated the way Ford, GM, and Chrysler were run. After all, it worked great for them, didn't it?

        Oh, wait...

        •  WTF? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mostel26

          I'll tell you what pal. when I was a teacher, I watched the local Ford and GM workers buy and sell me many times over. When the plant was closed for retooling they got paid. When they shut down for temporary reasons they collected UE. Me, I worked on a fishing boat in the summer because I had no pay those months. When those plants closed down my cohorts had long ago paid off their houses and sent their kids to college, had a boat and a vacation home at the shore. then they started complaining I was costing them too much in property taxes.

          •  I'm sure it was good times for the autoworkers... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Linda Wood

            until the plants had to be shut down because the automakers could no longer turn a profit.

            That's when the rest of the country, in the form of public monies, had to bail them out.

  •  The diarist is wrong, tenure rules are extreme (6+ / 0-)

    California teachers should be protected by reasonable tenure and other employment protections, not absolute protections that practically preclude any effective management of school personnel.  

    There may be court cases in other states where this precedent is taken too far to completely upend the idea of tenure or public sector workers' rights to job security. But the current rules in CA in many cases invited this through extremely foolish and detrimental rules around personnel management.

    You cannot effectively manage an organization if it is virtually impossible to fire any employee, no matter how bad. And the judge is absolutely right that the worst teachers get "reassigned" to the schools who are most desperate for any teacher at all.

  •  Do we care about public education or teacher union (4+ / 0-)

    It's funny how progressives who support access to alternatives to traditional neighborhood public schools get bashed here. Yet, to make a point in defending teacher unions, several aspects of public school education are ironically bashed by a lot of public school supporters here. (the bashing of administrators, references to casting couch, petty school boards, politics).

    Teacher unions should exist. But come on, I see way too much blind support of these teacher unions at the expense of any out of box discussions on how to improve education.

    •   (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26, Clues

      It is because this is not about improving education, it is about awarding the education of our kids to the richest asshole on the block, so they can get richer off the tax dollars the public pushes into the system. As long as making public schooling private is the meme, expect people to defend teachers and the Union(s) to the end.

    •  There's nothing funny here... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jbsoul

      it's a matter of trust and history.  Essentially, in this case, we (appear to) have some people suing to fix real problems.

      However, the sort of organization the plaintiffs are a part of, and the rhetoric they use, have been used for decades to fix completely imaginary problems in the names of busting unions and privatizing education for profit.

      When you talk like a union-buster, people are gonna think you're a union-buster.  If you insist you're not, you sound like a wolf in sheep's clothing.  When you talk like an education privatizer, people are gonna think you're an education privatizer.

      This affects the bar of trustworthiness--- much higher than it ordinarily would be if you are progressive.  It takes more to prove you're not a wolf.  Or lower, if you support union-busting or privatized education.  In that case, you're assumed to be a sheep.

      This isn't funny at all, but ordinary human nature.  

      Nobody deserves poverty.

      by nominalize on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 03:47:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This WAS about union busting. We know this (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mostel26, nominalize

        because plaintiffs did not attempt to address any other more important factors impacting student achievement. They chose only to go after teachers.

      •  Speaking of trust (0+ / 0-)

        I don't trust either side, quite frankly. I think all progressives want better education for all. But how we go about them is where we progressives disagree among ourselves. I just don't see how this one size fits all public education system works.

        I don't care for the right on this because they only care to circumvent secular education. Still, it seems like any attempt at trying out something different is met by resistance either by teacher union reps or those who support them. Numbers are twisted selectively by both sides.

        I think my trust for some on the progressive side will increase on this if they will at least once in a while criticize a teacher union. They can't be right on every freaking thing.

  •  Problem much larger than teachers (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ManhattanMan, fenway49, Mostel26

    Our problem is much larger than teachers.  Even if you have the "best" teachers in the worst schools, I doubt you would see vast improvement. The problem is cultural and attitudinal.  Our culture especially in youth does not value education.  It's not cool to be smart or do well in school.  Even in private schools, most of the kids could care less about education.  Those who do well are shunned or they try to hide the fact that they are doing well.  In the worst schools, teachers have to deal with a lot of disciplinary issues that make it difficult to teach the ones who want to learn. That's why teachers opt to teach at private schools for a significant pay cut so they don't have to deal with as many disciplinary problems.

    •  Please don't fall for this. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Be Skeptical

      Yes, it's true that outside factors are more important than what teachers do.

      But we can't control the culture, attitudes, etc., of Society. Government doesn't have that power.

      But we can control what goes on in the school. Even if we can't solve all problems, we should do what we can with the power we have.

      •  and that is the cop out (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mostel26

        used by all the privatizers. We can't actually do anything about the real problem, so let's go after something else and get rid of those pesky unions while we're at it, and we can even say we're doing it for those poor kids in the city, why we just care about their civil rights! Rich white dudes who care so much about poor minority children...well shut my mouth!

    •  You are correct... (0+ / 0-)

      However, you cannot ignore that the current laws and labor policies extend and exacerbate the cultural and attitudinal problems.

      I can only speak from my own experience 30-something years ago. Among my classmates, we had "bad" students respond positively to good teachers and "good" students respond negatively to ineffective teachers.

      Good teachers DO make a a difference.
      Good teachers CAN turn lives around
      Good teachers INSPIRE kids to aim higher than they may have thought possible.

      The exodus of good teachers to private schools is not just related to the disciplinary problems. Our educational system does have systemic and pervasive problems, many of which originate outside the classroom.

      We cannot tackle all of society's ills all at once. What we can do is light a candle in the darkness, and this decision is a start.

  •  I thought the case was about tenure. Teachers (0+ / 0-)

    can still have a union, right. What have I got wrong?

    Those who quote Santayana are condemned to repeat him. Me

    by Mark B on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 09:46:35 PM PDT

  •  The unions overplayed their hand (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    calwatch, pngai

    As a public school parent, I don't have to pretend. When my son's school finally got around to firing an incompetent teacher (whom he had), there was a big protest because at least she was a racial minority. She got reinstated. Well, that's nice, I'm sure that all the bigots out there drank a toast to keeping incompetent minority teachers, that's the way to reinforce their eugenics ideas.

    Now, I'm skeptical that this decision will be upheld on appeal. IANAL, but it's somewhat vague how to implement a system consistent with the decision, and the Superior Court isn't going to run the school, and the thought of tax money going to anything the vile Michelle Rhee has touched is disgusting.

    The political miscalculation, however, was enormous. The teachers unions figured with almost all major cities plus the State Government in Democrats' hands, there wasn't any need to improve the schools. Seriously, other than "give us more money", have these unions ever put anything on the table for better schools? What teacher evaluation system have they ever said is acceptable? I hear a lot about the unfairness of all the systems they oppose, and I'm tired of guessing about one they like. Let me guess, Senior Teachers who have no qualifications other than seniority will go visit the classrooms of Junior Teachers, Junior Teachers will kiss their rears and get good reviews. While the overall quality of the education as measured by any external yardstick stays about the same. Basically, as long as you pay your dues, the seniority system will take care of you.

    The unions shouldn't be surprised when some unforeseen event rains on their parade.

  •  My kids' high school did not start improving un... (0+ / 0-)

    My kids' high school did not start improving until the dead weight tenured retired-in-position teachers were gone and new blood brought in by a dynamic young principal.

    It's about time things are changed to get rid of the terrible teachers here in CA--particularly in southern CA.

    •  Demongo, since you have kids of high school age... (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26, Clues, nominalize, KingBolete, jbsoul

      Demongo, since you have kids of high school age, I assume that means you are at least in your late-30s. I don't know what your profession is, but I'm sure you're likely "dead wood," or soon to be, and will shortly resign from your job so some dynamic younger person can replace your burned out self?

    •  Not all dead weight are the older teachers (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26, socalteacher, jbsoul

      Most of the burn-outs I've worked with had less than 5 years experience and they ended up leaving the profession.  I really hate it when people assume that older teachers are dead weight.  Some of us continue to update our education and research to be current and fresh with our instruction.  Our experience helps us to be better teachers.

      “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

      by musiclady on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 08:32:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Seeing the comments here on this progressive si... (7+ / 0-)

    Seeing the comments here on this progressive site is thoroughly disheartening. The comments seem to fall into four principal categories:

    1. My kids (or I, or someone I know) have/had a teacher who is incompetent, therefore all teachers should be stripped of their due process rights;

    2. Teachers are intellectually subpar, and unlike every other profession (medicine, engineering, law, etc.), somehow get worse the more experience and/or education they have, so they should be laid off so those young, inexperienced superior teachers can replace all of those old burnouts;

    3. A standardized test score of a twelve year old can and should measure the worth of a teacher, and therefore their livelihood. Now we can't trust the assessment of the teacher who is with the student every day, but a single test that covers material that hasn't been taught is superior because it's unbiased, even though we'll take that on faith since neither teachers nor parents, only the testing corporations, ever get to see the test questions and the student responses;

    4. It sucks out there for private sector employees, so it needs to suck for those in the public sector, too.

    I would laugh if I weren't a teacher in California who just had his due process rights swept away by the single stroke of a Republican-appointed Superior Court judge, and then had to come on a Democratic website to see that decision accepted and even lauded because, you know, lousy teachers or something.

    •  My sentiments exactly (NT) (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      socalteacher, jbsoul, Mostel26
    •  #4 really gets my goat (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      socalteacher, fenway49, jbsoul

      If you're so obsessed with dragging other people down instead of putting in the effort to build yourself up, then you're not a progressive.  Period.

      Nobody deserves poverty.

      by nominalize on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 03:51:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I totally agree. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26, musiclady, socalteacher, jbsoul

      I had teachers I felt were good, some not so good, and some excellent in my educational history.

      Actually some of the teachers I had that I felt were the hardest to learn from were some of the ones I had in college, I believe this to be because a number did not have any courses in education when they were getting their degrees.

      But I made it thru got 2 degrees etc.

      The things I see as far as problems in the education system are these:

      At least around here there seems to be a lot of politics and nepotisim in the educational system. For instance, I know a lot of spouses, children or other relatives of people on the school board or teachers or administrators working in the same school.

      I sort of question whether these people were hired due to having the best qualifications or whether it was because they were somehow related to somebody.

      Next I think often anymore we are teaching people WHAT to know rather than HOW TO THINK.  I think we need to seriously re examine what we are teaching kids.

      Third, and I think we sort of see this in some of the teacher bashing posts here is as a society we have begun to think of ourselves as a collection of individuals rather than as a society.

      So when a kid is having an educational problem or a personality conflict with the teacher parents often hold their child blameless and then attempt to somehow retaliate against the teacher, reflexively, rather than even considering that their kid might be the problem.

      I also think that there is not an area, in politics, in the work place, or in personal relations where you will not deal with difficult individuals and by teaching kids that they are always right you are doing them a disservice.

      I'm not suggesting here that a truly abusive or incompetant teacher should be suffered thru, but I do think that as a country our distrust of institutions  and shoving off the blame are as much of a part of the problem as any teacher.

  •  Teachers still have due process rights. They ha... (0+ / 0-)

    Teachers still have due process rights. They have the same Skelly rights as all other public employees in the state. The issue with tenure is that it created a special State commission to adjudicate firing disputes, with a different composition than your usual appellate body (generally a civil service commission or city council). In other words, if this stands (and I don't expect it to make it past the State Supreme Court), firing a teacher would be the same as the school librarian or the clerk. You would still have to write up charges, they still get to appeal, etc.

    The unions need to do a better job of articulating why LIFO and tenure beyond the same rights given to firefighters, doctors, and engineers is necessary. There are good arguments... Experience, academic freedom, etc. but the default position seems to be that's how it's always been done, which doesn't work in today's anti public employee environment.

    •  Teaching vs. engineering (5+ / 0-)

      One of the problems that is unique to teaching is the emotionalism surrounding the work environment.  Engineers don't have an army of people prepared to defend their "precious little snowflakes" against any criticism whatsoever.    

      Another is politics.  Engineers aren't normally managed and overseen by a group of elected people untrained in engineering.

      Everyone thinks they have the right to assess teachers -  the school boards, the administration, the parents, the general public, the federal government, the state government.  I don't know of any other profession that has so many people (many with no educational training whatsoever) who feel entitled to scrutinize someone's work and pass judgement.  

      Additional protections for teachers are required because of these things.  There are two sides agreeing to a union contract.  It's up to the side representing the community to make sure that there are reasonable ways to dismiss a bad teacher, and a reasonable process for doing that.

      I am not a teacher, and I have no "precious little snowflakes".  I'm just speaking as a person who helps pay the bills for this system and would like to see it work at least as well as it did when I went through school.  

      •  As an engineer... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Linda Wood

        I have to dispute your assertions.

        Engineers are almost always managed and overseen, at some level, by non-engineers. The fact of the matter is that few engineers progress very far into upper management. The skillset required for engineering is oftentimes unnecessary or ill-suited to the job of managing other people, even other engineers. Many times the managers that determine the fate of entire engineering departments are technologically illiterate to the point they barely know how to operate a cell phone.

        Engineers are also routinely criticized by anyone who comes in contact with the products they touch. Have you never complained about some aspect of your car? Your phone? Your computer? Your roads? If you have done so, you are criticizing the engineers that made the design choices that you find unsatisfactory. What qualifies YOU to pass judgement?

        Additionally, engineers are rarely part of unions. Unions were originally intended to protect laborers from exploitation. Engineers are considered professionals, and I accept that distinction proudly. I would hope that teachers would wish to be considered professionals as well.

        Teachers, by being part of even the most basic union, enjoy greater protections than the vast majority of engineers could ever dream of.

        By the way, I don't support unions for engineers. I WANT bad engineers to be shown the door. If not, they are liable to make bad decisions that cast all engineers in a bad light.  I think the work that engineers do, at any level, is important. Too important to allow ill-qualified people to continue in the profession.

        I would hope that teachers consider their work to be  equally important, considering that our childrens' futures are at stake. Unfortunately, too many teachers consider their own personal well-being to be more important than the job they are supposed to be performing.

        •  How did I know someone would say that? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mostel26

          I understand your points, as I worked in IT for over 30 years, and can say with certainty that all the Dilbert comic strips are factual.

          But the scrutiny of our work by dimwit managers and executives and the casual chatter about our products by the uneducated public is nothing at all compared to what teachers go through.

          Unions were originally intended to protect laborers from exploitation. Engineers are considered professionals, and I accept that distinction proudly
          Hah.  When I started my career, I was a professional.  When I ended it, I was a cookie-cutter resource unit,  (Not even a human resource, mind you), who had been given the job of transferring my 30 years worth of skills to some other random resource unit (who didn't want them and had no clue about the job).  Like you, many of my fellow professionals were convinced not to form a union.

          I do believe the pointy-headed bosses all laugh at us for preferring a status title to any actual work protections, so I hope you enjoy yours immensely.

          And this -  

          Unfortunately, too many teachers consider their own personal well-being to be more important than the job they are supposed to be performing.
          is bullshit of the type normally seen spewed all over public bulletin boards.  I thought professional engineers were supposed to be precise and factual.
      •  If the contempt you express (0+ / 0-)

        with the term, "precious little snowflakes" has anything to do with the tenure issue, we're in big trouble. Please realize that parents, who are also taxpayers paying for this system, care more about what happens to their kids than about anything else.

        •  Not sure what you're saying here (0+ / 0-)

          and how "precious little snowflakes" has much to do with tenure, per se.  

          I understand that parents care about their kids.  The term has something to do with the differences in perspective of people who are discussing educational systems and people who only care what happens with their own kid.  It is also used to denote those parents whose kids can do no wrong, and helicopter parents in general.

          For example, as someone interested in educational systems, I really hate the idea of charter schools with lotteries.  I am not interested in changing the system so a few lucky kids can get a good education, I'm interested in changing the system so every kid gets a fair shot.  A parent with a "precious little snowflake" who wins a charter lottery will probably endorse charter lotteries wholeheartedly.

          •  I don't just mean (0+ / 0-)

            that parents sticking up for their children is part the work of teaching kids, that if you are going to teach and assess children you're going to have to expect to defend your assessments to parents. The term, "precious little snowflakes" implies a contempt for the reality that school boards, school administrators, parents, the general public, the federal government, and the state government have a right to question what teachers do. They do have that right. You have that right, as a taxpaying citizen.

            I'm saying that a contempt for parents who disagree with teachers is not supportive of the concept of tenure, from my point of view. It asserts that no one has a right to question what teachers do. And the defense of that position seems to be that teachers have been to Education school, have been trained in the profession of education. Well, in countries in which Education school yields success for the children, parents and taxpayers, the conflicts that we are having aren't happening, aren't grinding up the system.

            Parents support teachers who have good expectations and productive teaching methods. At least that's my experience over time.

            •  In one sense (0+ / 0-)

              parents sticking up for their children is a good thing, because it means the parent is involved.  On the other hand, I think your last sentence should be prefaced by "some".  Some parents think their kid deserves an A, or the lead in the school play, or a pass to behave in any manner they choose without repercussions.  These are the "precious little snowflakes" I'm speaking of, and if you get enough of them in one class, then they will chew up a teacher's time to the detriment of every other student in there.  

              When a teacher has 30 students, this might not be a huge problem.  When a teacher has 60 students, this can become an issue.  It's possible that there's a change underway in the system itself, where teaching was an individualized process 30 years ago, but is now becoming a group process,  (Teaching a "class" instead of teaching a student), and the community and parent expectations have not caught up to this change.   If our educational systems continue down this road, expectations really will have to change, as individualized treatment just won't be possible.

              If you think I have a general contempt for parents who disagree with teachers, then you haven't read what I've written very carefully.  In my original comment, I was pointing out to an engineer that although Joe-construction-worker may comment to his buddies disparaging some engineer's product, an engineer is not subjected to one or more interviews, management reviews, and improvement plans whenever that happens.  Engineers are not expected to receive, process and respond to that level of individual scrutiny by anyone who feels that they have something to say about it.

  •  it seems like (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    socalteacher, Mostel26, jbsoul

    the successful and wealthy have the habit of doing things that hurt america rather than help when they acquire the resources to be able to throw their economic and political weight around.

    changing the tax code and increasing the money brought into the treasury would be a win win for america and those not financially strong enough to fight these attacks on our system.

  •  I agree, Calwatch, and you articulate your poin... (7+ / 0-)

    I agree, Calwatch, and you articulate your points logically and coherently. I have just seen my profession under relentless attack from all sides in recent years, and my default defense mechanism is sarcasm. If you read even the vast majority of comments on this thread, you see how little respect and outright hostility exists even from alleged progressives.

    I was actually pink-slipped for several years in a row during the Great Recession due to LIFO agreements, so I'm actually speaking from first-hand experience, yet I still support these provisions.

    Lost in all this is the fact that California currently is 45th in the nation for per pupil funding. My English classes are all at 35 per section, the max allowed by our contract. Is this decision going to affect any of this? When it doesn't, and teaching is basically a short term, at-will profession, who will the blame shift to then?

    Do people really think the billionaires and AstroTurf reform groups care more about "the children" then those of us who have dedicated our lives to teaching them?

  •  One legal consequence (5+ / 0-)

    From what I understand, the notion is that ineffective teachers violate a student's right to an adequate education.  

    But then, let's say I'm a proven-effective teacher fired for some at-will reason.  Would I have grounds to sue for a violation of the student's right to an education?  
     

    Nobody deserves poverty.

    by nominalize on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 03:31:05 AM PDT

    •  No... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Linda Wood

      But you have the recourse to sue for wrongful termination, just like every other public and private employee.

      This is not a black or white issue. Making it less cumbersome to get rid of bad teachers DOES NOT mean that good teachers can be fired for no good reason.

      Even those who work as at-will employees enjoy certain protections under our labor laws.

      Additional protections for teachers are, on the surface, good things. But these additional protections have evolved to the point where they are harmful to the educational system and they unnecessarily stress the financial viability of the government that pays for the educational system.

      •  Those protections are wishful thinking (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mostel26

        California's Office of Business and Economic Development even gives managers some helpful tips on avoiding wrongful termination suits.

        http://www.business.ca.gov/...

        California’s Labor Code specifies that an employment relationship with no specified duration is presumed to be employment “at-will.” This means, at least in theory, that the employer or employee may terminate the employment relationship at any time, with or without cause. There are exceptions to the at-will rule created by statute, the courts or public policy.

        Statutory exceptions include terminating an employee for reasons based on the discrimination laws discussed above; for participating in union activity; for refusing to carry out an activity that violates the law.

        An employer can potentially reduce exposure to wrongful discharge liability by emphasizing using an at-will language in all written and verbal communications with employees.

        So... you can fire people for any reason whatsoever, so long as you don't reveal your hand.

        If the manager says nothing, there's no statutory protection for "the boss just doesn't like you," or "you taught evolution too honestly," or "you assigned Howard Zinn in history," "Your blouse wasn't low-cut enough," "Your blouse was too low,"  "You sin in the eyes of the Lord," "My friend needs a job and you're in the spot," and so forth.  That is, precisely the kinds of abusive, inefficient, and unproductive situations that tenure prevents.  

        And in this climate, there isn't likely to be any such protection.  

        Nobody deserves poverty.

        by nominalize on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 04:44:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Unions should take initiative and fix the problem. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    calwatch, PeteCA

    I don't see why this has to be a bad thing.  Surely we can all agree that the issues with rubber rooms and how convoluted the process is to get rid of bad apples is a problem.  If the Union changed its approach to one that pushes for protections for teachers that are less absolute and more reasonable it seems to me the problem could be solved.

    It seems to me there should be a way to create a fair mechanism to get rid of the bad apples quickly while still affording protection from illegitimate reasons for dismissal.  Why not the approach of fixing what is a legitimate issue instead of fighting for the status quo?

  •  An interesting comment from the NYT articl (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    calwatch, socalteacher, jbsoul

    by A.D. of Boston MA (the top comment).  It puts into eloquent words the germs of thought that were sprouting in my mind.

    Regardless of the wisdom of tenure for teaching, this ostensibly "conservative" ruling is potentially a huge win for leftism in California if upheld on appeal. If the right to an education can be used to strike down an otherwise legal state policy decision, why can't this same right be used to ban local school districts? After all, they contribute to the financial and racial segregation of classrooms.

    Why stop? Poorly maintained city infrastructure exacerbates poverty and forces longer commutes, impeding parents' ability to help their children with their homework. The state is now required to equalize all spending at the local level.

    Hopefully, this will all be extended to rights to health, water, shelter, even happiness. The libertarians sow, so shall they reap.

    Nobody deserves poverty.

    by nominalize on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 03:56:01 AM PDT

    •  In NJ the courts ruled that indeed kids rights (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jbsoul, Mostel26

      were violated by the funding formula, and the state thus had to do something about it. Most of the politicians said too bad and did their best to skirt the issue. Corzine tried to follow the law. he got thrown out on his ass and replaced by a right wing jerk off who wants to pack the court with conservatives and have the case reopened and thrown out. So good luck with that idea. it won't matter for shit if the courts order equal funding, because it will be ignored. Workers constitutional protection of a pension in Detroit is ignored. But the courts can find a way to erode worker rights on constitutional grounds. And you can bet your ass that will be enforced.

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