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Old 11 June 2014, 12:17 AM
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Little Pink Pill Little Pink Pill is offline
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Default Teacher tenure called unconstitutional by California judge

The USA's two largest teachers unions vowed to challenge a judge's decision that declared tenure and other job protections unconstitutional for California teachers. The case could reverberate across the USA as other states look to overhaul their systems for hiring, paying and retaining teachers.
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Old 11 June 2014, 12:45 AM
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Esprise Me Esprise Me is offline
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In case it wasn't clear from the article, the judge ruled that tenure as it exists in California violated the California state constitution, not the U.S. Constitution, which does not include the right to public education. Worth noting when speculating about what may happen in other states.
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Old 12 June 2014, 08:24 PM
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This week Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu handed the education reform movement a stunning legal victory, when he struck down California’s teacher tenure laws for discriminating against poor and minority students. The statutes made it so onerous to fire bad teachers, he wrote, that they all but guaranteed needy kids would be stuck in classrooms with incompetent instructors—rendering the laws unconstitutional.

As evidence, Treu cited a statistic that sounded damning: According to a state witness, between 1 and 3 percent of California’s teachers could be considered “grossly ineffective.” Here was the passage:

There is also no dispute that there are a significant number of grossly ineffective teachers currently active in California classrooms. Dr. Berliner, an expert called by State Defendants, testified that 1 to 3% of teachers in California are grossly ineffective. Given that that the evidence showed roughly 275,000 active teachers in this state, the extrapolated number of grossly ineffective teachers ranges from 2,750 to 8,250. Considering the effect of grossly ineffective teachers on students … it therefore cannot be gainsaid that the number of grossly ineffective teachers has a direct, real, appreciable, and negative impact on a significant number of California students, now and well into the future for as long as said teachers hold their positions.
This seemed like a fairly important piece of the decision—if you’re going to argue in court that a state law is dooming children to second-rate educations, you ought to be able to quantify the problem. Politically, it also seemed liked a pretty awful indictment of the state government if officials knew for certain that so many useless teachers were lounging around California’s classrooms. But where did this number come from?

Nowhere, it turns out. It’s made up. Or a “guesstimate,” as David Berliner, the expert witness Treu quoted, explained to me when I called him on Wednesday. It’s not based on any specific data, or any rigorous research about California schools in particular. “I pulled that out of the air,” says Berliner, an emeritus professor of education at Arizona State University. “There’s no data on that. That’s just a ballpark estimate, based on my visiting lots and lots of classrooms.” He also never used the words “grossly ineffective.”
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Old 15 June 2014, 05:16 PM
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IlGreven IlGreven is offline
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Even the "made up" number didn't say how many of these "bad teachers" were tenured. In fact, if it's only 1-3%, I would say that it would be extremely difficult for a "bad teacher" to get to tenure before they were weeded out.
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Old 15 June 2014, 08:23 PM
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Latiam Latiam is offline
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It's harder to be a good teacher in schools with no supplies in the supply room and a classroom full of kids who don't eat properly and have parents who won't get involved. I've been there. And it wears on you. It gets to you. So when I see this talk about getting the best teachers into these needy schools...
When you are respected and appreciated and thanked, you do more. When the kids love to see you and make dandelion chain necklaces and aren't emotionally needy every minute of the day, you teach more. When the staff works together as a team to do what's best for the kids, stuff gets DONE.
The differences between the best and the worst schools are more than money.
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Old 15 June 2014, 08:26 PM
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Agreed Latiam, but where we have it way backwards in the US is that we reward teachers for teaching in the easy schools and give them less resources and less pay when they work in the disadvantaged schools.
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Old 16 June 2014, 12:17 AM
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Then the excuse is always something about not being able to solve the problem by throwing money at it. As if.
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Old 16 June 2014, 01:49 AM
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Latiam Latiam is offline
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I had a long ranty post, but I erased it.

A few things: Basing salary on standardized tests is just wrong. Every expert out there says so. Even if they were objective measurements of a child's learning, which they aren't, they presume a level playing field, which we don't have. They're not valid quantifiable data at all.
Instead of focusing on these theoretical 1-3% of teachers who are theoretically horrible, what about the 97-99% who are doing a good job? Why should their chances for tenure get penalized? Please understand - we don't do this tenure system over here, so I don't really have an opinion about it one way or the other, but I do have a problem with it being taken away for a theoretical 1-3%.

I get assessed by my principal every 5 years. I get a lot of input in the assessment. If it was Unsatisfactory I would be sent to courses and assessed again. If that was unsatisfactory then I would be in a bad spot, and on the road to dismissal, but even then more chances for remediation would be given. I don't see why something like that can't be instituted. It took years for our Union to hammer it out with the Board, but eventually they worked it out.

Finally - professional development always helps. I was at the school with the lowest standardized test rating in the province, and they didn't just throw money at the school - they did spend lots on manipulatives and let us choose books and stuff, but they also spent 4 years training the staff. I was there for one and a half and learned a lot.
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