Tuesday, December 31, 2013

CTA Steps Into A Lawsuit

Larry Sand, president of the California Teachers Empowerment Network, writes in his usual style:
If successful, this lawsuit will remove the tenure, seniority and arcane dismissal statutes from the California education code and render them unconstitutional, thus making it easier to get rid of incompetent and criminal teachers while outlawing seniority as a method of teacher-retention. (It’s worth noting that the Students Matter lawsuit doesn’t ask the court to devise specific policy solutions, leaving those decisions to local districts as they are in 33 other states.) While this litigation will help all students in the state, inner-city kids would benefit the most...

Though not named in the lawsuit, the teachers unionsrefusing to sit by and accept a change in rules that would benefit students at their expense intervened as defendants. In the recent edition of California Educator, the California Teachers Association’s bimonthly magazine for teachers, the union tries to explain to its members that the lawsuit is the work of the devil; in doing so, it manages to haul out every platitude it could muster from its amply furnished cliché closet, attempting to convince all concerned that they are a beleaguered but scrappy David fighting against a corporate Goliath.

Yes, people with money are behind the suit. Lawyers don’t work for free and the poor children who have been victimized by the current system don’t have deep pockets. And what corporate agenda is he talking about? Usually this scare statement refers to the allegation that corporations want to take over and privatize education. This lawsuit is attempting to do no such thing; it is simply trying to make public education better. And his last point is a real howler. CTA does not, I repeat, does not fight to have qualified teachers in every classroom. They fight to keep every teacher – qualified or not – on the job to ensure their bottom line is not affected. Unfortunately this means that in addition to good and great teachers, the union also fights to keep stinkers and pedophiles alone with your children seven hours a day, five days a week.
You might want to read the whole thin--especially the end, where Larry describes what it takes, and how much it costs, to fire a bad teacher.


momof4 said...

$500k seems low, since I remember reading $600k minimum, to fire a teacher, in my kids' DC suburban district at least 20 years ago. That figure and the endless "due process" explain why my son's senile 4th-grade teacher was allowed to stay until she had maxed out her retirement, even though she couldn't remember her kids' names and hadn't been able to do so for at least a couple of years before my son had her. She was still there two years later. It also explains why another son's URM female science teacher hadn't been fired, despite regular howlers on scientific knowledge and regular rants at her class that she hated them and wished they'd all die. She also refused to allow kids to leave the room,even for emergencies; resulting in a series of embarrassing incidents. (My son would simply have left, but some of the kids were intimidated). I have zero respect for an outfit that protects such teachers, let alone more dangerous ones.

allen (in Michigan) said...

My one beef with the lawsuit is that it leaves administrators who'd supposedly dump lousy teachers without any skin in the game.

The goal is to get the lousy teachers out of the system so the kids can better learn but what is the administrator's rationale for pursuing that greater educational efficacy? Because they're such estimable human beings? Because they ache to see all those bright, freshly-scrubbed faces suffused with the joy of learning? I'm thinking, no.

If the administration isn't every bit as much at risk of losing their jobs as the teachers, perhaps more so, then they have no reason to belabor the bad teachers, make comfortable the good teachers and put up with the occasional genius due to their superior performance.

That doesn't seem like a good situation to me.

Anonymous said...

There really isn't any difference between radical feminists insisting that college students should be expelled on the mere allegation of misconduct without due process and Students Matter insisting that teachers should be fired without any due process. Suggesting that a college student should be given due process to find out if he is actually guilty does not mean that you are "pro rape". Likewise, suggesting that a teacher accused of wrong doing be given due process does not mean that you are "pro child molester". It's easy to say that a series of hearings could theoretically cost the district "up to $500,000". That does not mean that this reflects real costs. A teacher's actual rights in the state of California are quite minimal. Typically, a teacher accused of serious wrong doing is immediately removed from the classroom without any proof of guilt. They do not need to be informed of the charges against them. If the teacher has tenure, the district must show a reasonable possibility that the teacher could be guilty. Just the reasonable possibility is enough for termination, the district does not have to prove actual guilt.

Darren said...

Anonymous, I'm not sure you're correct. The teacher can, and for liability reasons probably should, be removed from the classroom if there's reason to believe accusations *could* be true. They're not immediately fired, though, but placed on "administrative leave"--paid leave--since they cannot be *fired* without evidence. It's not ideal, but I'm curious what a better plan would be.

When you pay teachers for not working, and "undue" process (as I call it) can and does sometimes take *years*, just paying the teacher salary and benefits can easily burst into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Anonymous said...

I did not say that a teacher who was immediately removed from a classroom would be immediately fired. That would only be the case for untenured teachers.

A better plan would be to actually tell the teacher what the charges against them are so that they can prepare a defense. Require that a hearing be held within three months, and if the teacher decides to appeal that hearing, schedule another hearing also within three months. Problem solved in less than one year. In addition, schools should not be allowed to fire teachers for simply doing their job. So a teacher who breaks up a fight or disciplines the son of a school board member for cheating would not be fired. By the way, both of those are actual cases.