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Teachers and tenure - lawsuit

Original post made by Registered Joe on Jan 27, 2014

The disservice that the CA Teachers' Association provides to California as a whole continues to amaze me. When are we going to wake up and elect leaders that will take the CTA head-on, instead of currying its favor so that they can insure re-election?

The legal challenge is this: A group of Bay Area students have filed suit against the State citing the current processes of teacher tenure, dismissal, and layoff laws, charging that it's next to impossible to get a teacher fired for cause - in other words, for not doing their job effectively. The case is Vergara vs. California.

The statistics are telling. Out of the 285,00 teachers in California, only 91 have been fired in the past 10 years. Whether or not they do their classroom jobs effectively, whether students are actually able to gain something from their classroom presence, they essentially have a job for life. The CTA backs them to the hilt, right or wrong, to students' detriment. And hence the lawsuit.

The CTA's spokesperson, Eric Heins, went on record stating that the lawsuit is a "red herring," meant only to distract the public from the "real issues" facing public education.

When are we going to elect leaders that have a spine? Perhaps I'm asking the wrong question. When is a leader going to emerge that we can get behind, that is willing to challenge the CTA?

Comments (29)

Posted by Paolo, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2014 at 9:24 pm

Wonder whose money is backing the students? Koch brothers? Likely. It never ceases to amaze how someone from Pleasanton, with its liberal array of '10' schools, wants to yip about teachers.

Oh, and worrywart Joe's comments are largely untrue. There is a tenure process through which teachers must pass through. Many don't make it through. Worrywart Joe is too dishonest to acknowledge that.

Posted by Another mom, a resident of Deer Oaks/Twelve Oaks
on Jan 28, 2014 at 9:10 am

I couldn't agree more. We have some excellent teachers that have worked for PUSD for decades and also some that weren't so great. We've also had new teachers to the district with all but two being fantastic. Sadly, these fabulous new teachers have been let go and I know at least one ended up in Danville. This tenure nonsense is garbage. I have four kids and have had kids in PUSD starting 20 years ago. I'm glad I'm almost done with the district and will advise my own children to look into private schools if they land in pleasanton with their own children. Things are just a total mess right now as well ever since Ahmadi took over. I wasn't a john Casey fan, but now I miss him.

Posted by Paolo, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2014 at 9:50 am

Yeah, Joe-now-posing-as-Mom, when you find that private school you're looking for, the teachers might not be that great, but they very well may have the 'right' religion, the 'right' political leanings, and will have learned how to suck up to administrators. Not having a tenure system and union pretty much guarantees these kinds of outcomes in for-profit educational institutions. Private schools vs. public? You must like spending your money on an inferior product, even when you don't have to. What a laugh.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Jan 28, 2014 at 10:04 am

I don't have a problem with a teacher having tenure. What's the problem?

Posted by me, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2014 at 12:20 pm

It is very, very difficult to remove a teacher in Pleasanton that has tenure, even if the teacher is not performing. I was in the district administration where there was at least one teacher I knew that was not performing but since he had tenure, all they really could do is coach him to be a better teacher (which he still received the same salary as our excellent teachers). This puts a burden on the principal as the principal of the school has to work with that teacher and hope they will get better. Sometimes they work better, sometimes not. As a parent, both of my kids had that teacher and we had problems and everybody else at the school said the same thing but their complaints could not go anywhere because of tenure. I felt sorry for the principal because he had to give the 'company line' that everything is under control even though he knew that he had a teacher that was not performing. As an FYI, that teacher is still there, some 15 years later.

The others that lose are the teachers in the higher grades as they get the students from that teacher and they have to then work real hard to try to get those students up to grade. Sometimes it is not possible.

There needs to be a system in place that can monitor the progress of students from grade to grade and teacher by teacher and have the ability to remove a teacher that is 'not making the grade'.

Posted by Paolo, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2014 at 1:07 pm

Sounds like yet another lie from a disgruntled parent, obsessed with hatred for unions, and overcome with anger because one of Pleasanton's excellent teachers wouldn't show Birth of a Nation in her classroom. Tenure protects teachers from wacko parents. Teachers in private (for profit) schools that do not have tenure tend to bend to the wishes of any tuition-paying parent; teachers are frightened, curl up into a ball, and do not try anything creative in the classroom for fear of being labeled as a 'liberal loon' by an obsessive, hate-filled parent. You want conformity? Send your kids to a private school. Of course you get the mediocrity that goes along with it.

Tenure, union-backed, ensures that teachers don't feel they have to kowtow to every wacko parent's wishes. In this sense, union-backed tenure for teachers uplifts the quality of teaching and the quality of educational outcome.

Posted by Registered Joe, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2014 at 9:01 pm

It takes two years before a teacher is eligible for tenure. Roughly 60% of California's teachers are tenured. I'd say that the vast majority of tenured teachers deserve it; they're dedicated, work long hours, buy supplies out of their own pockets, and genuinely care about the quality of the education that they deliver and foster. And they've somehow learned how to listen to and reason with most parents, even those that some of us might consider to be wackos.

There are loads and loads of these types of teachers here in Pleasanton, and these teachers don't need a union.

The teachers that don't care, or can't perform, or do a disservice to their students by being in the classroom, those are the teachers that need a union. In any rational merit-based system they'd be out the door. But a rational merit-based system is the polar opposite of what the CTA and other teacher unions strive to prevent.

Posted by me, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2014 at 9:57 pm

Tenure and union are two different things. You can address tenure and pay for performance and still have a union.

Posted by Older Parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2014 at 11:09 pm

My kids 3 kids have had really GREAT teachers and ... more than a few really worthless ones. They all get paid the same and, as parents, we all know we have to endure the year with the bad ones ( tutors, $$$, aggravation and frustation)

Tenure is a ridiculous notion that does not exist in the regular workplace.


Posted by Reality, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2014 at 11:25 pm

This lawsuit is NOT about Pleasanton teachers past or present. This lawsuit is about union contract absurdities...primarily tenure. It is wrong to put evil, molesting teachers ahead of our children. Union prevents districts from FIRING these criminals. Even Joan Buchanan agreed with unions as always, to 'protect' the teacher from firing and LOSING benefits. Nope, protect the union member first, last, and always...for as long as possible.
These phonies who profess to care about 'the children'...a big lie!!
District & parents should have the right to do what is right for the children, not protect perverts and really bad teachers. Districts let it ride, because union contracts demand $$payments FOR YEARS for 'on leave', etc. NO more wasting hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars in delays and legal fees. We need our own standards and demands written in these 'union contracts, WE live with. CA is an 'at will' state...we can be gone in an hour, at employers whim. Of course the babied 'unions' will get protections we cannot have, but, we DO have the RIGHT to expect every teacher not be perverted or criminal in any way....AND WE NOT PAY them. How absurd it be any other way. Change NOW!!

Posted by Reality, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2014 at 11:31 pm

ANY DECENT teacher who is doing their best, not breaking any laws, an no intention of every being a pervert, SHOULD stand WITH parents and students on these issues...NOT protect the criminal. That wasted 'protection' money could be spent on our students.
It's also time for 'districts' to stop standing 'with' the 'unions' on everything...let's get BACK to putting our children first !! (if not, they can take a hike too)

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Jan 29, 2014 at 10:13 am

[Removed because it was off topic]

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Jan 29, 2014 at 2:49 pm

The CTA has done an excellent job representing CA teachers.

Teachers deserve excellent representation.

i rest my case...

Posted by MCM, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2014 at 4:24 pm

Why should a job be guaranteed to anyone? What other jobs in the working world have this?

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Jan 29, 2014 at 4:35 pm

Nothing in this life is completely guaranteed. You for example could walk outside tomorrow and a dump truck could speed by and take you out!

Teachers have a right to protect their interests. What is it that you don't like about fellow American fighting for rights?

Many good Americans have lost their lives protecting the rights of fellow Americans. Don't you appreciate that?

Posted by Paolo, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2014 at 7:04 pm

What other jobs in the "working world" have this? Well, we might start with the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court. MCM's comments are so utterly daft, I'm not even going to bother explaining why that might be.

We might move right along and refer to tenure existing in virtually every credible institution of higher learning in the Western World, private as well as public.

Tenured jobs are quite common in many Northern European countries, most of these countries having a standard of living and quality of life that exceeds that of the United States.

Imagine ... holding up Walmart as a standard by which public school teachers are expected to embrace. You know, that vaunted capitalist institution that routinely surveils all of its employees -- sorry, minimum wage earning "associates" -- and fires them ("communist agitators") if the surveillance folks don't like the contents of their email messages. Yup, that's a standard we should want all our teachers to uphold and live by.

Ta-Da: MCM's post, combined with the others he's submitted on this site using numerous other names, has won this week's award for most idiotic post.

Posted by Teacher from PTown, a resident of Birdland
on Jan 29, 2014 at 7:15 pm

Sometimes good teachers get pegged as incompetent by hovering helicopter parents. In my tenure with the district I have seen more unwarranted harassment of teachers over students grades than I ever thought I would. We need to be protected from some of the soccer moms who would run us out of town I because their child does not earn the grades they want them to get.

Posted by Gina, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jan 29, 2014 at 9:09 pm

Maybe six or seven years ago a teacher at vintage hills was doing a job share with another teacher and she accidentally copied all families on an email she meant to go to her teaching partner only. The email described the children individually with some targeted with deragatory statements about her view of them. You would think something like that would cause a suspension or something, but no. In fact she kept teaching the same kids she spoke I'll off

When my oldest was at PMS several years ago, a teacher turned on a video for the class and it ended up being a very graphic XXX movie. Not making this up. What did John Whitney do? He blamed the person (dud not name) for donating it with the XXX tape in it. Yeah right. Like we were supposed to believe the teacher never tested it or used it before. Interesting conversation with my daughter that night. The teacher was not suspended.

Sample #3. Back at vintage hills, an excel spreadsheet with very private testing scores and averages was emailed to all the families in the class. Very sad for those students that were struggling. No suspension here.

I could go on and on with all the examples with all our years in Pleasanton schools. Not only can teachers not be fired, but they aren't even sanctioned or have consequences imposed for this sort of nonsense. Really, when my daughter was in 6th grade I really wasn't prepared to discuss oral sex being performed on a woman the day the teacher didn't take her porn tape out of the VCR.

Posted by Reality, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2014 at 11:34 pm

Teacher from P town, I know some parents today can be obnoxious when their darlings get told to shape up. However, that doesn't mean we should tolerate union excesses and absurdities like allowing perverts to stay in the classroom, or even to pay them for two years. Suspend WITHOUT pay, but not around children and NO pay. Unions think they have to come up with "getting' something more every year...really childish and greedy.
Misbehaving must DISallow any payments. IF a teacher has any inmproper tendencies, having their own 'savings account' to cover their misbehaving would be a good idea....NOT from the district or written into contract.
Misbehaving knocks one off any pedestal they might have previously enjoyed.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Jan 30, 2014 at 9:45 am

To avoid a rush to judgement it's appropriate for teachers to be represented by their elected representatives.

Many Americans have lost their lives fighting for the rights of all Americans to engage in meaningful negotiations.

Teachers are no less a citizen with rights as any other American. It's a legal right to choose to be a member of a union.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Jan 30, 2014 at 9:53 am

I disagree that there is anything "childish" or "greedy' about a raise. If it's written into a contract then it's a legal document that must be respected.

If you're not involved in the negotiations there is a reason that your opinion doesn't figure into the contract.

I think that it's ANTI-AMERICAN to deny fellow Americans their legal right to form a union with duly elected representatives.

It's your responsibility as an American citizen to get involved in electoral politics if you want your voice to count.

Posted by Registered Joe, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2014 at 8:45 pm

Unions by themselves are fine, in fact, public employee unions are fine, but it's the unions' abuse of the public trust which is outrageous. Teachers' unions blindly protecting their members to the detriment of the students they serve is abuse, pure and simple.

Posted by Teacher from PTown, a resident of Birdland
on Jan 30, 2014 at 9:45 pm

Gina and Reality,
I completely understand your perspective. I can tell you that many teachers share your same frustrations. It's incredibly difficult working with some people who are completely incompetent & unethical. There must be some happy medium to protect teachers from the few awful parents who make our lives a nightmare and at the same time protect the students from the few awful teachers who make the families lives a nightmare. I don't know what it is but there simply must be a better way. The kids are not getting the education that they deserve.

Posted by Reality, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2014 at 12:23 am

As illustrated by Teacher from P-Town, issues justified or not, intolerance of some parents, or incompetence of some teachers is not solved with any union, nor is it corrected with tenure. It is clear tenure does not quarantee quality of teaching, only a big "sigh' with 'now I'm protected forever". The only thing unions did on the topic is reduce the waiting time to, Hello, and your name is?? and here's your job for life. Idiotic!!!.
Cholo, slow down and read, this thread is not about unions. It is how worthless teacher 'tenure' is, and the damange to some students by some tenured teachers. Tenure means there is no practical or efficient way to rid a district of an incompetent, corrupt, abusive, or criminal teachers. Anyone or any group that would defend keeping such teachers clearly doesn't care about students. It defies the 'pretense' of putting students first or even caring to advocate for students. Tenure offers nothing to anybody, except protection to not be an effective teacher, and the right to be abusive. Tenure must be stopped.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Jan 31, 2014 at 12:12 pm

Teachers are hard working individuals and they have elected to belong to a union to protect their interests. That is the American way.

This thread is not merely about students and their families. Many teachers are also living breathing individuals who deserve respect and to have their professional interests protected.

"Reality" is not the only poster who has a right to frame the discussion. However thank you for sharing!


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Jan 31, 2014 at 12:55 pm

The American educational is not perfect. It seems to me that so many parents are ungrateful that their children even receive an education?

If parents cannot tolerate others involved in educating their children then perhaps it would be wise to consider moving to another city where their children can access the kind of educational services that they believe they deserve.

I would complain too much about teachers as I would hateful and ungrateful parents and their cheerleaders.

i rest my case...

Posted by Reality, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2014 at 2:32 pm

Again, it takes a while to get through to Cholo, but this thread is NOT about unions, it's about arbitrary tenure 'protection' of criminals. You are SO confused. It seems, you, of all people, would want preverts BUSTED !!!! You rightly rail against Bishops abusing children, why when it comes to teachers you say "they are entitled to respect and deserve professional protection". Again, you MISS the topic!! It's not about teachers, it's about " BAD " teachers who do more harm than good to students!! get it????

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Jan 31, 2014 at 4:01 pm

(off topic)

Posted by Registered Joe, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2014 at 6:30 pm

Back to the teachers' union. Again the issue is the union's blind support of tenure, which prevents incompetent teachers from dismissal.

The president of the California Teachers' Union, Dean Vogel, said about the lawsuit: "It's disappointing because putting professional rights of teachers on trial hurts students." This is both 100% self-serving and 100% incorrect. It shows complete disregard for the quality of education in the classroom. And it misses the point of the lawsuit completely. The lawsuit aims to make it easier to remove incompetent teachers, which will help students.

The alternative to tenure is merit. In a merit-based system, you're rewarded based on your job effectiveness. If you're not effective, you receive training and counseling, and if that fails, you're removed. The union does not want its members to be judged on merit. It would rather have a set of loyal, dues-paying members that view the union, and not their classroom effectiveness, as the key to holding their jobs. Yes it is that simple.

Vogel and the CTA go on to blame "corporate special interests" and "billionaires" for the lawsuit. In fact the spearhead behind the group is a Silicon Valley executive, a parent, with degrees in electrical engineering.

The CTA tried to have the lawsuit dismissed, but that was struck down by the courts. The trial started last Monday, Jan 27.

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