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Teachers' Job Security More Important than Kids' Futures?

June 25, 2014 in Economics

By Nat Hentoff

Nat Hentoff

Having organized a labor union at a Boston candy store when I was 15, during the Depression — where students worked nights and weekends for 35 cents an hour — I am not anti-labor union. Threatening a strike as Christmas business neared, we won our 50 cents an hour.

But in recent years, as a reporter on education, I have found teachers’ unions bullishly and contractually protective of their members’ jobs, most commonly at the expense of low-income and minority students.

For one example, “The dismissal process for grossly ineffective teachers in California is so complex and costly that it does not work; many districts do not even bother trying” (“A historic victory for America’s kids,” Campbell Brown, New York Daily News, June 11).

The “historic victory” was in Vergara v. California, a case brought by nine student plaintiffs, decided on June 10 (“Historic Victory for Students in Vergara v. California: Court Strikes Down Five Provisions of the California Education Code as Unconstitutional,”

This decision, from Judge Rolf M. Treu of the California Superior Court for the County of Los Angeles, is not final. He had to order a stay pending an appeal — inevitable in this case.

Nonetheless, as news of this potentially huge setback for other states’ teachers’ unions spreads, many parents of public school students are organizing to bring this life-changing equal-protection reform to their children.

A June 11 New York Daily News editorial put it bluntly:

“It adds up to a glaring equal-opportunity violation that’s been ignored for decades — a gaping wound that’s been treated like a common rash” (“Justice for students,” New York Daily News, June 11).

Said Judge Treu in his ruling: “Evidence has been elicited in this trial of the specific effect of grossly ineffective teachers on students. The evidence is compelling. Indeed, it shocks the conscience …

“Plaintiffs have proven … that the Challenged Statutes impose a real and appreciable impact on students’ fundamental right to equality of education and that they impose a disproportionate burden on poor and minority students.”

In its summary of the case brought by the student plaintiffs, the Students Matter organization — which was vital in the plaintiffs bringing the case to court — demonstrates how California’s current Permanent Employment Statute (other states have similar laws) makes it hard to dismiss a grossly incompetent teacher:

“(It) forces administrators to either grant or deny permanent employment to teachers after an evaluation period of less than …read more

Source: OP-EDS