Town Square

CA Teacher Tenure Lawsuit

Original post made by Registered Joe on Feb 13, 2014

Day 13 of the trial ended today. Seven more days of testimony is expected, and it will be some weeks or months before the judge issues a decision.

The suit alleges that students in California public schools are harmed because of the ineffectiveness of poorly-performing teachers, whom school districts are unable to terminate because of tenure. A combination of State statutes and processes make it next to impossible to get rid of tenured bad teachers.

The vast majority of teachers are hard-working individuals who care deeply for the students they instruct. Roughly 60% of teachers in CA have tenure. The target of the suit are those tenured teachers that are ineffective in the classroom. Although it's theoretically possible to terminate these employees, in practical terms only about 10 tenured teachers out of 290,000 in the state are actually fired each year.

The suit is against the State of California, asking for a change in law and process. The suit is NOT targeting teachers or teachers' unions, at least not directly.

School districts support the lawsuit. The superintendent of the LA schools, John Deasy, supports it. However, the CA teachers' unions are against the lawsuit. You have to ask yourself: Why wouldn't the unions have the same desire as parents and students in removing bad teachers? Bad teachers aren't just bad for students, they're bad for everybody.

Try turning the question around, and ask: How do the unions benefit by having bad teachers? The answer is simple. Unions benefit from large numbers of dues-paying members. The more members, the more dues, and the more the unions can spread those dues to further their own interests. A bad teacher's lifeline is the union. The union makes it possible for the bad teacher to continue getting a paycheck. A bad teacher is the union's strongest supporter.


Posted by Get the facts, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2014 at 7:38 pm

We good teachers (let's pretend for a second that I am a good teacher) are no fans of bad teachers. We want them gone too. Having bad teachers around does not help the profession, it makes us all look bad.

Joe, your argument about 'Unions benefit(ing) from large numbers of of dues-paying members" makes no sense. If more teachers were fired/let go/released, then the pool of dues-paying union members would stay the same, because those teachers would be replaced with new teachers. The pool would basically stay the same.

Posted by Stewart, a resident of Danbury Park
on Feb 14, 2014 at 10:48 am

Get the Facts,

I see your point but I think what he was trying to say is that the longer a teacher is working the higher their pay becomes at least to a point and the teachers most involved in the union are your older teachers and honestly many of them are probably the ones which would be terminated based on performance. If your union dues are based on two hours of pay per month then the higher the hourly rate the larger the dues.

I think you probably are a very good teacher because you seemed engaged and like your job and I think that and knowledge is what separates good from bad. I have two nieces who are teachers and one in this district. They say that the older teachers are the worst and the way they talk in the teachers lounge is amazing. They refer to them as "hysterectomy row". They complain about their pay, the students, the administration, their jobs, their husbands if they have one or their boyfriends. These teachers are generally mad at life and take it out on the students. My nieces and my sister in law as well say that these teachers are the ones most involved in the union and in their opinion the worst teachers.

Posted by Tired of the lies, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2014 at 11:15 am

Stewart, when you say "honestly" are you indeed being honest? Come now, time to 'fess up. Pretty weak tea you're brewing here pardner.

And in your scenarios regarding "hysterectomy row," are there any males in that crowd? Or is this a matter of a sexist poster (yourself) fabricating a bunch of stuff in order to further an agenda? Come back when you're prepared to be truthful with everyone or, minimally, have supportive evidence to back you claim beyond reference to nieces of your 2nd cousin complaining about some of their colleagues. You really must think with are all eight year-olds....

Posted by Stewart, a resident of Danbury Park
on Feb 14, 2014 at 1:47 pm

I wondered how long it would be before I heard from a old teacher. The truth hurts. As a few of the younger teachers themselves how they feel about their colleagues. If you truly do it in isolation and they trust you I think you will be shocked about how they feel about the union and their older peers.

Posted by Tired of the lies, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2014 at 2:56 pm

I'm one of those younger teachers you refer to, Stewart. And you? Well, you're no teacher at all. Only a vicious gossip whose unfounded statements (lies) carry no credibility whatsoever.

Posted by Whatever, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2014 at 4:08 pm

How sad and ridiculous. Ageism at it's finest. As if somehow age and being older makes someone a bad teacher. Many of the kindest, most solid, and wonderful teachers are the ones close to retirement. Many great teachers have retired while parents and younger teachers are sad to see them go. Clearly Stewert has no clue at all and is quite possibly bitterly unemployed and is jealous "old" people better at their jobs than him. Loser

Posted by Seek excellence, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2014 at 9:51 pm

Whatever,this has nothing to do with 'agesism'. It's not about old. It's about allowing a teach to grown old, being bad for decades, harming thousands for being 'allowed' to stay on long after student abuse or the inability to fire a lousy continues on for decades. That is absurd and cruel to our kids!!. Our kids deserve excedllence!!! We don't want to end a teacher's career after one year, so we allow a second , which is still too early for a LIFETIME decision. But two years and they've got a job for life
when they slack off or do more harm than good. It's not often, but it is wrong for district parents to be forced to allow the aging botched teachers continue. Parents should have the right to expect the best....particularly when there is a line of student teachers anxious to teach our kids.

Posted by Tired of the lies, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2014 at 10:30 pm

Changing your name from Stewart to (ironically) Seeks Excellence does nothing to improve your case. In fact, judging from your grammar, you absolutely would not pass my ninth grade class. Admit it, Stewart, you don't know the first thing about teaching, or excellence.

Posted by Registered Joe, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2014 at 12:42 am

Again I believe that the majority of teachers are honest, hardworking, and good for the kids.

However here's the front-page statement from the National Education Association. The NEA is 3.2 million members strong and is described as the largest labor union in the US.

"Educators have long relied on tenure and seniority to guard against arbitrary dismissals and other adverse employment actions."

So without tenure, teachers are subject to being fired. That's the whole point of the lawsuit. A bad teacher that might otherwise be subjected to "adverse employment actions" is safe because of tenure. The only people subjected to "adverse" anything are the students.

Posted by Tired of the lies, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2014 at 1:48 am

Ah, now Stewart is back to identifying himself as registered Joe. No matter what moniker he uses, he identifies himself by an inability to reason beyond a grade school level.

Teachers, even tenured teachers, can be fired. The quote, that Stewart/Joe proves to be unable to read, stresses that tenured teachers are protected against ARBITRARY dismissals and adverse actions. I swear my ninth grade students are smarter than this ignoramus. What happened to him in school, I wonder, that now renders him incapable of sense making?

Posted by local, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 15, 2014 at 10:04 am

Tenured teachers cannot easily be fired. They pretty much have to commit an illegal action to get fired. Somebody that is tenured, who is not performing up to grade, will not be fired. They will just be 'coached'.

The current system does not reward good teachers or discipline bad teachers. Once you have made tenure, your performance will not matter and the pay is the same, and if you show up, you will not be fired. This is not fair to the good teachers, which are the majority. It is also not fair to the students who are stuck with those teachers.

There is no profession where you can have this many members and they are all good, forever.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Feb 15, 2014 at 10:12 am

I admire teachers for having union representation. It makes good sense given the public hostility toward anybody who looks out for their own interests.

Posted by Registered Joe, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2014 at 10:37 am

There's a big difference between "can" and "are," as in "can be fired" and "are fired." In CA there are essentially no firings of tenured teachers. The statistic is an average of 10 firings of tenured teachers per year out of 290,000 teachers.

Posted by Tired of the lies, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2014 at 11:01 am

Yes, tenure helps make the profession a reasonably good one. And it helps students as well. Some who have a lot more sense than poor Joe/local/abandoned Stewart/"excel-haha-ence" decided that a protected environment is better for teachers and kids. We don't want teachers fighting with one another to get the 'best' students, or helping their students cheat, or have administrators lie for them, all in order to produce higher performance numbers. We've seen this at charter schools. Kids become pawns in a 'raise-your-performance' game.

The lawsuit is merely part of a political agenda, financed by the Koch Bros and other rich righties, to turn public sentiment against unionized teachers. Also, it's part of a more general strategy to dumb down the educational system so that teachers are more vulnerable to rightwing wacko parents while students become more susceptible to creationism and other anti-science views. See the Southern states -- the red states -- and their pathetic educational levels.)

Poor Joe simply doesn't have a clue, and takes his lead from Fox News. His grammatical competence is below high school level, and, beyond his penchant for lying, I won't comment on the lack of morals that informs his persistent attempts to post on a site like this one using multiple names.

Posted by Stewart, a resident of Danbury Park
on Feb 15, 2014 at 11:11 am


I have really gotten in your head and you see me everywhere. You appear to be losing it and getting real emotional and lashing out. Let's have a test here and see how honest you are with the bloggers here. Over the course of the last 10 years a total of 95 teachers with tenure have been terminated in California. Here is the test. How many of the 95 were terminated for performance?

Posted by Tired of the lies, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2014 at 11:39 am

As a teacher, bad grammar and idiotic forms of thought and expression are always in my head. Comes with the territory. Fortunately, my students can be educated to improve themselves. They can be taught to raise questions because they desire to learn from others' answers, not to make some inane and indefensible point.

Your 'question' ignores how many teachers are let go during their pre-tenure period. It also ignores how less-than-effective teachers are often rotated into less teaching-intensive activities.

Your 'question' also ignores the obvious shortcomings of any alternative to the current public school format. Tenure, by the way, is installed at Cal Berkeley, Stanford, Oxford, and Harvard, as well as in the Cal public school system. Tenure works. Do some squeeze through who maybe shouldn't? Yep, no doubt. But it currently is the best system going for teachers and students alike.

If you have a better alternative, Joe/Stewart/Liar, then let us hear it. And if you are tempted to forward one of your simpleminded platitudes about the private sector -- you know, that sector that has shed you like a rotten plum -- give us some details.

Posted by Registered Joe, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2014 at 8:59 pm

Tired, glad you asked. There is a better alternative to tenure. In educational circles it's called merit, but for most of us it's called performance appraisal. You become skilled at your job through a combination of schoolwork, experience, and training, and your performance is regularly reviewed. If you excel, there is a path to promotion and increases in pay. If you're mediocre, you stay level. And if you perform poorly, you get additional managing, training, counseling, whatever it takes, to get you back on track. And if you fail at that, you're terminated.

Posted by JJ, a resident of another community
on Feb 15, 2014 at 9:11 pm

How would a teacher's "merit" be evaluated? There are so many variables, many of them unmeasurable. To say otherwise indicates a complete lack of awareness of all that teachers are called to do. To say that we should use test scores is also problematic for reasons that shouldn't need explaining. How does one measure a teacher's worth?

Tenure is not without its flaws, but I have yet to hear of a better, more reasonable alternative.

Posted by Tired of the lies, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 16, 2014 at 9:43 am

Ah yes, as predicted, Registered Joe could muster nothing beyond a tired private sector model which affords individual teachers no protections from arbitrary negative reviews and dismissals. Funny how you don't hear teachers asking for a private sector competitive model, as they seem comfortable with current job evaluations while having job protections and assurances-with-teeth that they don't have to worry about overly zealous administrators with an agenda or dumb right winger parents who think they know how to teach better than the teachers themselves. JJ is right. Tenure system may have its flaws, but it is far superior to half-baked, right-wing alternatives. What is it about these righties who exude titillation when talking about firing people?

Posted by Fed Up, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 16, 2014 at 12:26 pm

Well, Now I just have to jump in. I am a parent of a no longer in school, graduated" THANK GOD" child. I have experienced bad teachers in both districts. Pleasanton and Livermore. I have friends that have also. The bad teachers should have been fired for the things they did. I am not talking just bad teachers. I am talking about teachers that have no patience with children and should not be allowed to teach young children "BAD TEACHERS". The kind of teachers that get physical with children, Intimidate children in their class. Single children and parents out . Yes It happens so don't go labeling me or any of the parents whom it happened to as VICTIMS!!! There are bad teachers out there many. I had to resort to getting a lawyer friend involved because of the harassment and out of line behavior of one such teacher that was way over the top. The point is here that these teachers should be fired, they should be terminated immediately but because of the tenure and unions they are not. They are the ones responsible for the negativity towards teachers and teachers unions. By the way the stories and there are many of bad teachers , Each and every one of these individuals had tenure and on several occasions it was next to impossible to have them fired or reprimanded because of their tenure status and union protecting their lousy persons.

Posted by Tired of the lies, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 16, 2014 at 1:29 pm

Yeah, Fed Up sounds like my next door neighbor. His two kids were regularly physically and verbally abused by the teachers, and they were made to attend Saturday sessions because they weren't turning in their homework. Saturdays apparently were the worst for these kids, as teachers really go over the top and engage in criminal behaviors. He thought about calling the police, since he maintained crimes were occurring, but he instead talked to a lawyer friend, which didn't get him any satisfaction, but, hey, what are you going to do? Finally, after repeated Saturday sessions and all kinds of threats from the principal -- and he was a borderline psychotic abusing criminal too -- the kids graduated. They were going to hold his kids back a grade because they missed so much homework, but he went in and threatened to reveal their little den of iniquity. Darn those teachers, their tenure and their unions.

If a teacher gets physical with your kid, do what Fed Up did. Talk to a lawyer friend. That'll do the trick. Or throw tantrums in the principal's office. These teachers are BAD. We have been given the truth from Fed Up.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Feb 16, 2014 at 2:34 pm

Using a concealed camera can go a long way especially when it is viewed online or TV.

Posted by Registered Joe, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 17, 2014 at 10:46 am

Your post implies that there is an overabundance of school principals ready to treat teachers badly, just for the sake of doing so. I think that's an outlandish position.

Of course many teachers aren't "asking for a private sector competitive model." Once tenured, a teacher in CA has a job for life, regardless of performance. Under-performing teachers have two things going for them; tenure and the state's most powerful unions.

But I'll wager that there are plenty of teachers that would prefer a merit-based system, where they can excel and be paid accordingly. Just like in the "tired private sector competitive model."

Posted by Get educated, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 17, 2014 at 11:48 am

Ah, registered Joe, you bring to light a good point (saying teachers would want a merit-based system of pay) that might not be thought of unless you were an educator.

The private sector is based on competition- works well with a merit system. Education is based on cooperation/collaboration- teachers working together. We even have mandatory collaboration time weekly. Bring in a merit system and that changes- best practices not shared, classrooms pitted against each other. Student placement would even be put into question- GATE students vs special needs students. Studies show merit pay has little affect- Web Link

Parents already want classrooms in a grade level to be similar- often asked-"why isnt my child's class doing what the other classes are doing" If I were wanting to be paid on my merit, why would I share what Im doing in my classroom with others? The merit based motivation of my classroom would become to show the best results according to how you would measure (test scores?) making my end game only about performance on a test.

Be careful what you wish for. As a professional, of course I would love to paid my worth. As an educator, I would rather have what is best for educating kids. This ideology is not something I see in the private sector (competition based) , so I can understand how those outside of education would question it, they can't relate.

Posted by Registered Joe, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 17, 2014 at 9:28 pm

Get Educated, good comments, thanks for posting and I hope many will read. It's obvious that you're not among the few that the tenure lawsuit is targeting.