Teacher Tenure Case a Farce

Judge Rolf TreuYou probably have heard about Judge Rolf Treu finding that California teacher tenure was unconstitutional because it violated the students’ equal rights to a good education. What is hilarious about this is that students in Calfornia do not have equal rights to a good education regardless. School funding is based upon local property taxes, so students who live in poor areas get far fewer resources. But conservatives like Treu are not at all interested in the children. They are interested in breaking teachers’ unions, just like they want to break all unions.

I seriously doubt that his finding will hold up as it is appealed. Diane Ravitch looked into the case last week and determined, The Vergara Trial Teachers Were Not “Grossly Ineffective.” But even before getting to the heart of the matter, here’s a really interesting thing in the case. Of the nine plaintiffs, four were at schools that didn’t even have tenure. So even if you assume that these teachers were terrible, tenure doesn’t seem to be the thing that was keeping them in the classroom.

But the truth is that the teachers were not “grossly ineffective.” The defense noted that four of the plaintiffs presented no evidence at all that the teachers were bad. Of the other five, nothing was established other than the single student doing poorly. That hardly qualifies as “grossly ineffective.” That’s more along the lines of, “I don’t like my teacher.” The plaintiffs didn’t have administrators testify nor did they look at the teachers’ work history.

Ravitch noted:

One of the plaintiffs (Monterroza) said that her teacher, Christine McLaughlin was a very bad teacher, but McLaughlin was Pasadena teacher of the year and has received many awards for excellent teaching (google her).

I have no doubt that Rolf Treu had his mind made up long before this case ever existed. What’s more, I have little doubt if a case came before him claiming that unequal school conditions violated the the students’ equal rights, he would find that they didn’t. Because again, this is not about the students. This is about taking down the teachers’ unions.

Note also that the whole idea of teacher tenure has been blown out of proportion. Tenure does not mean that teachers can’t be fired. What it does mean is that teachers get to defend themselves. They can’t just be arbitrarily fired. But that’s the world that conservatives want us to live in. It is a world in which all working people live in constant fear for their jobs. People like that are easy to control. They know that their very lives depend upon keeping a low profile and always yielding to the powerful.

I’m all for education reform. But I’m entirely against the “education reform” movement. In this country, “reform” is almost always a euphemism. In this case, it is a euphemism for destroying the teachers’ unions. And the net result of all of this is going to be that our children get an even worse education than they now get.


At The Robing Room, a prosecutor said this of Judge Rolf Treu, “Shoddy work. Biased rulings. Will almost always favor those with money, connections and conservative politics.”

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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