California Teacher Tenure Lawsuit and You
I have seen education change a lot in the past decade and the California Teacher Tenure Lawsuit is one of the more drastic changes I have seen. A good deal of the information is new and many questions are unanswered. I present three sides of the equation from three composite figures: Johnny Student, Mr. and Mrs. Doe, and Miss Jane. These, of course, are not real names but they do represent a good portion of Orange County’s population. (READ: Teacher tenure ruling in California)
Why revoking tenure is good for Johnny:
Johnny has been struggling in school for many years. His teachers just don’t get his learning style and his grades are suffering. His teacher, Miss B, has only been teaching for 2 years but she is a fantastic, talented, hardworking teacher and Johnny really clicks with her. Unfortunately, Miss B has been laid off because of seniority regulations and Johnny continues to struggle. If the tenure laws are revoked, Johnny could continue to blossom and thrive academically with Miss B.
Why revoking tenure is bad for Johnny:
Miss B, Johnny’s excellent teacher, is concerned that she might get fired if her students’ test scores aren’t high enough. Johnny has been struggling for a few years and so his test scores are a bit low. If Miss B had tenure, she could focus on helping Johnny thrive academically without fear of losing her job. With potential new laws, Miss B is concerned about her livelihood and gives more of her time to the higher scoring students so that her class average is acceptable and Johnny begins to fall through the cracks (in this case, Johnny will need a private Orange County tutor from TutorNerds to receive the attention he deserves).
Mr. and Mrs. Doe
Why revoking tenure is good for Mr. and Mrs. Doe:
The Doe’s have been asking for help from their daughter’s teacher, Mr. G, for several months. Mr. G seems to never be available and their daughter is not doing well. It doesn’t really make sense because she has done so well for the first several years of school. No matter what they do, Mr. G is never available and doesn’t seem to be doing a good job at all so the Doe’s file a complaint with the school. It turns out that Mr. G has several previous complaints but he cannot be fired because of his tenure. The potential new laws can change all that. Mr. G is given points of improvement that he must comply with or he will be let go. The Does’ daughter’s education is back on track.
Why revoking tenure is bad for Mr. and Mrs. Doe:
Mr. A, the does’ daughter’s great new teacher, has some bad news. He wants to tell the Doe’s that their daughter is struggling with grades and behavior. He has some ideas that he thinks will help her and he would like to share them with the Does. Unfortunately, Mr. A doesn’t feel comfortable discussing anything negative with parents out of concern that he will receive too many complaints. His students’ scores are high enough so he sticks to basic teaching methods. After a few years, Mr. A is frustrated because he can’t reach out to many of the students that he wants to and he resigns to another profession. The Doe’s daughter is reassigned to Mr. G’s class for next year.
Why revoking tenure is good for Miss Jane:
Miss Jane is new to teaching. She gives every day her heart and soul. She won teacher of the year her very first year of full time teaching. All of her students love her and her students’ parents think that she is the best thing to happen to 21st was the last one hired, she could lose her job any given Friday. Many other, less enthusiastic, teachers will get to stay if the layoffs come just because of tenure and seniority. With the potential new law, Miss Jane can stop worrying and focus on her job.
A few years later, Miss Jane starts to get distracted by other things in life and her quality of teaching begins to slide. She remembers that her job is on the line and so she keeps on task, makes extra time for her students and regains her top notch teaching skills.
Why revoking tenure is bad for Miss Jane:
Miss Jane is currently in college deciding on a major. Her older student colleagues tell her how easy it is to get fired as a teacher. Miss Jane compares the median salary for several professions and decides to go into another field. Her potential students never meet her nor do they benefit from her care and expertise.
Facts and Opinions about teaching in California
Median salary for an elementary school teacher in Irvine, CA = $59,078
Median real estate and relocation director salary in Irvine, CA = $151,915
Median police patrol officer salary in Irvine, CA = $57,441
Median salary for a chief technology officer in Irvine, CA = $218,863
Median salary for a hotel manager in Irvine, CA = $109,178
Opinion (but it’s really a question): Thousands of new, and potentially good or bad, college students need to declare a major in their junior year. Without tenure and seniority, how many will choose to go into teaching?
Opinion (but it should be a fact): Children deserve a free, high quality and equal opportunity education in the state of California.
Opinion (but it should be a fact): Teachers deserve to focus on their students and not worry about job security AND teachers who are truly unskilled and refuse to improve should look for another profession.
At the end of the day, we don’t really know yet if this is a bad or good thing. Like many things in life, it may be a mixed blessing. I recommend that parents stay informed, stay up to date and help their children stay academically strong by working with the teacher, learning how their children learn and providing support at home. (Read: More information on the teacher tenure lawsuit)
We’ll have to wait and see…
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