Created: 06/12/2014 11:13 PM WHEC.com
By: Lynette Adams
A court ruling in California this week could have national implications when it comes to job protections for teachers. A judge sided with nine students who brought the lawsuit, ruling that tenure and other protections for public school teachers are unconstitutional. The judge said the system discriminates against minority and low-income students by placing ineffective teachers in their schools.
As a social studies teacher for 16 years, Paul Hetland says he raised controversial issues with students and challenged them to pursue them even at the risk of angering school administrators. He says that’s a teacher’s job and tenure he says allows that.
Paul Hetland said, “It is a protection for critical thinking and if that's truly what I want to develop in students. I think we have provided that.”
The California case was brought by nine students who complained that teachers with as little as 18 months experience were allowed to reach tenure and that students in the poorest areas were disproportionately stuck with them. The judge agreed and ruled that tenure should take longer and that when it comes to layoffs that the performance of teachers last hired should be taken into consideration for keeping them.
Rochester Teachers’ Association President Adam Urbanski predicts the California ruling will be overturned in appeals.
Adam Urbanski, RTA President, said, “The real enemy of good education for all children, especially for children in urban districts, is concentration of poverty, not teacher tenure. Teacher tenure is a mere guarantee of constitutional rights.”
But the chair of the Rochester Prep Board of Directors disagrees and says tenure is one of the biggest problems in the traditional education system. He says teachers should be forced to compete like in every other profession, but he says tenure guarantees they don't have to.
Geoff Rosenberger, Rochester Prep Board Chair, said, “What they're basically saying is they shouldn’t be managed and I disagree with that. I don't know of any other profession that doesn't have standards and practices and what they're saying is they should be exempt from standards and practices and every other profession I know of has them.”
Tenure is under fire in other states. Right now, Kansas and North Carolina are seeking to eliminate tenure or phase it out over time.