Wednesday, December 17, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Judge strikes down California teacher tenure

By
From page A1 | June 11, 2014 |

LOS ANGELES — A judge struck down tenure and other job protections for California’s public school teachers as unconstitutional Tuesday, saying such laws harm students — especially poor and minority ones — by saddling them with bad teachers who are almost impossible to fire.

In a landmark decision that could influence the gathering debate over tenure across the country, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu cited the historic case of Brown v. Board of Education in ruling that students have a fundamental right to equal education.

Siding with the nine students who brought the lawsuit, he ruled that California’s laws on hiring and firing in schools have resulted in “a significant number of grossly ineffective teachers currently active in California classrooms.”

He agreed, too, that a disproportionate number of these teachers are in schools that have mostly minority and low-income students.

The judge stayed the ruling pending appeals. The case involves 6 million students from kindergarten through 12th grade.

The California Attorney General’s office said it is considering its legal options, while the California Teachers Association, the state’s biggest teachers union with 325,000 members, vowed an appeal.

“Circumventing the legislative process to strip teachers of their professional rights hurts our students and our schools,” the union said.

Teachers have long argued that tenure prevents administrators from firing teachers on a whim. They contend also that the system preserves academic freedom and helps attract talented teachers to a profession that doesn’t pay well.

Other states have been paying close attention to how the case plays out in the nation’s most populous state.

“It’s powerful,” said Theodore Boutrous Jr., the students’ attorney. “It’s a landmark decision that can change the face of education in California and nationally.”

He added: “This is going to be a huge template for what’s wrong with education.”

The judge declined to tell the Legislature exactly how to change the system, but expressed confidence it will do so in a way that passes constitutional muster and provides “each child in this state with a basically equal opportunity to achieve a quality education.”

The lawsuit contended that incompetent teachers are so heavily protected by tenure laws that they are almost impossible to fire. The plaintiffs also charged that schools in poor neighborhoods are used as dumping grounds for the bad teachers.

In striking down several laws regarding tenure, seniority and other protections, the judge said there was compelling evidence of the harm inflicted on students by incompetent teachers.

“Indeed, it shocks the conscience,” Treu said.

He cited an expert’s finding that a single year with a grossly ineffective teacher costs a student $50,000 in potential lifetime earnings.

California teachers receive tenure after just two years, sooner than in virtually any other state. If a school district moves to fire a tenured teacher and the educator puts up a fight, it triggers a long, drawn-out process, including a trial-like hearing and appeals.

Los Angeles School Superintendent John Deasy testified it can take over two years on average — and sometimes as long as 10 — to fire an incompetent tenured teacher. The cost, he said, can run from $250,000 to $450,000.

In his ruling, the judge, a Republican appointee to the bench, said the procedure under the law for firing teachers is “so complex, time-consuming and expensive as to make an effective, efficient yet fair dismissal of a grossly ineffective teacher illusory.”

The judge also took issue with laws that say the last-hired teacher must be the first fired when layoffs occur — even if the new teacher is gifted and the veteran is inept.

The case was brought by a group of students who said they were stuck with teachers who let classrooms get out of control, came to school unprepared and in some cases told them they’d never make anything of themselves.

“Being a kid, sometimes it’s easy to feel like your voice is not heard. Today, I am glad I did not stay quiet,” said one of the students, Julia Macias. “I’m glad that with the support of my parents I was able to stand up for my right to a great education.”

The lawsuit was backed by wealthy Silicon Valley entrepreneur David Welch’s nonprofit group Students Matter, which assembled a high-profile legal team including Boutrous, who successfully fought to overturn California’s gay-marriage ban.

Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, the nation’s biggest teachers union, bitterly criticized the lawsuit as “yet another attempt by millionaires and corporate special interests to undermine the teaching profession” and privatize public education.

The trial represented the latest battle in a nationwide movement to abolish or toughen the standards for granting teachers permanent employment protection and seniority-based preferences during layoffs.

Dozens of states have moved in recent years to get rid of such protections or raise the standards for obtaining them.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan hailed the judge’s ruling as a chance for schools everywhere to open a conversation on equal opportunity in education.

“The students who brought this lawsuit are, unfortunately, just nine out of millions of young people in America who are disadvantaged by laws, practices and systems that fail to identify and support our best teachers and match them with our neediest students,” he said. “Today’s court decision is a mandate to fix these problems.”

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 3 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • A Taxpayer Win?June 11, 2014 - 6:33 am

    It's about time!! These teachers have had it too good for too long. Getting a pretty much guaranteed job after two years? They might as well be government employees....oh, wait, they kind of are, since education is now run out of Washington. And here we are: Since they lost this case, cue the kids line---“Circumventing the legislative process to strip teachers of their professional rights hurts our students and our schools,” the union said. No, the kids were hurt when the union keeps incompetent teachers in class and fights like heck to keep them there. Now, if we can somehow get the NEA and CTA leadership to withdraw their support for the Communist Party USA and Socialist Party, as well as make California a right to work state, we might be on the road to improving the education system.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • AlfJune 11, 2014 - 3:00 pm

    If this sticks, it could be begin a sea change in education.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rudy MadronichJune 11, 2014 - 3:18 pm

    Alf: I do not see this sticking as the teachers union will not let this happen because this will take away their hold they have on power. They will take this to court. But it would be a win for students, parents and tax payers that want a better eduction for the kids.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Haynes, Travis district part company

By Glen Faison | From Page: A1, 16 Comments

 
Menorah on Main begins celebration of Hanukkah

By Glen Faison | From Page: A1, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Free new home heater warms Solano family

By Glen Faison | From Page: A3, 3 Comments | Gallery

 
Optimist Club welcomes student essays

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

Police arrest 5 on DUI allegations

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3, 6 Comments

 
 
Crash blocks part of Air Base Parkway

By Glen Faison | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Police arrest 4 for suspected marijuana sales

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5, 7 Comments

 
‘Hobbit’ story ends on big screen

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A7

 
Council delays decision on anti-smoking ordinance

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A8

 
Police arrest man caught driving stolen car

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A8

 
Fairfield police log: Dec. 14, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

 
Faifield police log: Dec. 12, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: Dec. 14, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Dec. 12, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

 
.

US / World

Quotes from around the world on Pakistan attack

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
A look at the Pakistani Taliban militant group

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Taliban assault on Pakistan school leaves 141 dead

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 2 Comments

 
State retiree health care gap reaches $72 billion

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9, 4 Comments

Robin Williams tops 2014 list of Google searches

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Ex-Marine wanted in 6 killings commits suicide

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13, 3 Comments

 
Gay vets can march in Boston St. Patrick’s parade

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13, 2 Comments

Cosby won’t be charged over molestation claim

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
End game: No immigration deal, just divisions

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

Jeb Bush to ‘actively explore’ run for president

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13, 4 Comments

 
Aussie leader: System failed to track siege gunman

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Islamic State recruits broadly, not just fighters

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Eight-day Jewish festival of Hanukkah begins

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Filipino mayor expresses support for Guam statue

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Employees arrested for baby theft in Guatemala

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Israel arrests members of Jewish extremist group

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Ireland plans May vote on legalizing gay marriage

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Sydney siege victims lauded for courage, kindness

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Horror over deadly Sydney siege turns to anger

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

.

Opinion

 
LA looks to election shift to boost turnout

By Dan Walters | From Page: A11

What is Hanukkah’s significance?

By The Rev. Dan Molyneux | From Page: A11, 10 Comments

 
.

Living

Today in History: Dec. 17, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Dec. 17, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Dec. 17, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B6

 
My teenage daughter seems to be cutting me out of her life

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B6

A chocolatey rich coconut cream pie for Christmas

By Elizabeth Karmel | From Page: B7

 
Go Italian this Christmas with lobster manicotti

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Dressing up a simple hash for Christmas brunch

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
.

Entertainment

Letterman pulls curtain on holiday tradition

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A5

Green Day, Reed, Starr into rock hall

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Fixes planned for clinic that treated Joan Rivers

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

.

Sports

Chris Borland’s rookie 49ers season likely over

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Some Raiders players want Sparano in 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Fairfield grad Bishop signs with 49ers

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Memphis stops Golden State’s 16-game win streak

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Sprint to end NASCAR sponsorship after 2016 season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Raiders place LB Sio Moore on IR

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Patriots regain top spot in AP Pro32 rankings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Rodriguez girls finally get win over Monte Vista

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

Panthers outlast Capitals in longest NHL shootout, 20 rounds

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
AP sources: NFL employees turn over phone, email records

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Bills deliver Lions pizza, wings for hospitality

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
1998 World Cup winner Thierry Henry retires

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

USOC decides to bid for 2024; city still undecided

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
College football playoff participants stack AP All-America team

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Yankees GM Cashman: A-Rod now a full-time DH

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
.

Business

California home prices cool in November on sluggish sales

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
T-Mobile to let customers carry over unused data

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Apple wins class-action lawsuit over iPod prices

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Apple stops sales in Russia, citing unstable ruble

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Obama backs bill imposing new sanctions on Russia

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9, 5 Comments

 
Sony hackers reference 9/11 in new threats against theaters

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Russian ruble sinks sharply despite bank rate hike

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
.

Obituaries

Collie Joseph Blossom

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 2 Comments

 
Calvin B. Shin

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 3 Comments

James Nelson

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
.

Comics

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6