Sunday, January 26, 2014

Lawsuit Challenges Union Power, Rules on Tenure, Seniority and 'Last Hired, First Fired...'

The problem with this is that administrators are corrupt and they'll abuse their power to fire teachers they don't like.

Having said that, it's obscene that union hacks charged with sexually abusing students can't be fired. And for that reason, I'm for overturning union power.

At LAT, "Lawsuit takes on California teachers' job protections":
Local school districts, state legislators and even a California governor have tried to limit teachers' job protections, among the most generous in the country. Efforts have all failed to rid public schools of ineffective teachers by making it easier to fire them and tougher for them to gain tenure and by stripping them of seniority rights.

Now proponents are taking their fight to another venue: the courtroom.

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge will hear arguments this week over the constitutionality of laws that govern California's teacher tenure rules, seniority policies and the dismissal process — an overhaul of which could upend controversial job security for instructors.

The lawsuit, filed by the nonprofit, advocacy group Students Matter, contends that these education laws are a violation of the Constitution's equal protection guarantee because they do not ensure that all students have access to an adequate education.

Vergara versus California, filed on behalf of nine students and their families, seeks to revamp a dismissal process that the plaintiffs say is too costly and time consuming, lengthen the time it takes for instructors to gain tenure and dismantle the "last hired, first fired" policies that fail to consider teacher effectiveness.

The lawsuit aims to protect the rights of students, teachers and school districts against a "gross disparity" in educational opportunity, lawyers for the plaintiffs said.

The debate over teacher effectiveness has become increasingly contentious in recent years as school systems, including the Los Angeles Unified School District, try to link students' standardized test scores to instructors' evaluations, rather than keep using reviews in which no test data are included and nearly all teachers are rated as satisfactory. The dismissal process also has come under fire in recent years for the difficulty it causes school districts that seek to fire teachers accused of misconduct against students.

Teachers unions have vigorously defended tenure, seniority and dismissal rules, calling them crucial safeguards and essential to recruiting and retaining quality instructors. The lawsuit, they contend, is misguided and ignores the true causes of problems in education, such as drops in state funding.

"If you give teachers resources and appropriate class sizes, principals and superintendents that support them — they will be successful in increasing student achievement," said Jim Finberg, an attorney representing the California Teachers Assn.

Finberg said wealthy benefactors and special interests are attempting to use their money to force their policy views on the state.
"California teachers care deeply about students and welcome a policy debate on how best to improve California schools," he said. "But that debate should be in the Legislature, not in a courtroom."

The plaintiffs, meanwhile, will try to prove that the laws themselves prevent administrators from removing ineffective teachers, thus lowering the quality of the teacher pool and contributing to an inadequate education for some students.
And the courthouse is just the place to do that, their attorneys said.

"The job of the court is to make sure the laws don't hurt kids," said Marcellus McRae, an attorney for the plaintiffs.