LOS ANGELES – A lawsuit filed in 2012 by the parents of nine K-12 students will go to trial today, with the future of California’s teacher tenure law, and other legal job protections for public school teachers, possibly hanging in the balance.
The parents, backed by the education reform group Students Matter, claim that the states’ tenure law protects the employment of subpar teachers, and many of those lesser teachers end up working in economically disadvantaged school districts., according to a report from Bloomberg, com. Layoff policies based on seniority rather than teacher quality also water down the talent level of the teaching force, making poor kids even less likely to receive quality instruction.
All of the above has the effect of violating the equal protection clause of the state constitution, the plaintiffs say.
The lead plaintiff is 15-year-old Beatriz Vergara, a student in the Los Angeles district, who had one teacher who consistently fell asleep in the classroom and couldn’t control students, and another who let students smoke marijuana in class and made offensive racial comments, the news report said.
Without legal protections for unfit teachers, school administrators would have more freedom to pick and choose the best teachers to keep on staff, and students would benefit, the lawsuit says.
The case is being heard in Los Angeles Superior Court. If he agrees with the plaintiffs, Judge Rolf Treu would have the power to order the state to stop enforcing the teacher protection statutes, the news report said.
With California state government firmly under the powerful influence of the state’s teachers unions, litigation is probably the only way to alter teacher protection laws in that state.
But sadly, we suspect even a victory at the Superior Court level might be short-lived. That’s because any such verdict would be appealed, and California has a lot of bought-and-paid-for left wing judges who can be counted on to deliver victory to their teachers union friends before all is said and done.
But either way, the lawsuit is strong on merit and well worth the effort. If nothing else, the public will get another chance to see how wrong it is to virtually guarantee all teachers lifetime job protections, regardless of their level of skill.