California teachers tenure is up for debate in a Los Angeles courtroom Monday January 27. It has been a national debate concerning the validation of a teachers tenure. The question being asked is whether California teachers should remain under the guard of the tenure or if it should be easier to fire a teacher and not so easy for a teacher to become tenured?
A 53 year founder of an old optical telecommunication firm, David F. Welch, is bringing the issue of a teachers tenure up for debate. He is challenging the seniority that tenure gives teachers and is questioning why such job protections are granted to tenured teachers under California law. According to the Washington Post, Welch believes that the tenure policy allows for the worst teachers in the state to continue teaching students. He also says, that most of the time those teachers reside in low-income, poverty-stricken neighborhoods or areas with high minority rates. This calls into question why these ineffective teachers are allowed to simply continue holding their job, while students consistently fail in their classrooms. Welch believes this is a civil rights issues and by allowing ineffective teachers to stay in their positions due to being tenured it amounts to a violation of civil rights.
Welch is backed by a powerhouse of legal forces and is going up against some of the more powerful labor unions in our nation. Michelle Rhee, former D.C. school chancellor who was responsible for ridding the tenure from that district in 2009 has joined Welch. Rhee also went so far as to create an advocacy group to which focused efforts on eliminating the tenure nationwide. Welch has also hired such attorneys as Theodore Boutrous and Ted Olson. Olson who is a former U.S. general solicitor recently paired with Boutrous in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that shot down California’s prohibition against same-sex marriage.
Welch and his team are directing this mission against the labor unions who represent 400,000 educators in the state and ultimately help protect those educator’s jobs. Gov. Jerry Brown and other state officials have been joined by other groups such as the California Teacher Association and the California Federation of Teachers as the defendants in this case. According to the Washington Post, this court case could eventually lead to a nationwide action concerning a teachers tenure. Welch’s legal team has already spoken with groups in New York who are very interested to see where this will go. As for labor activists, policymakers, and educators they will all be watching to hear the results.
The tenure for teachers was first adopted in 1909 to save teachers from being fired based on race, gender, pregnancy, or other factors such as clothing or appearance. This aspect of teaching is said to be one of the more attractive benefits within the teaching field. It allows a teacher to have a sense of job security within a field that is consistently changing.
California teachers tenure is up for debate because Welch and Rhee began researching the importance of teacher quality. They argue that the tenure is an obstacle that makes it more difficult to fire bad teachers. This Student Matters lawsuit argues that seniority rules of “last in, first out” makes it so the newest teachers are the first to get laid off or easily lose their jobs. However, the labor unions approach is defending teachers tenure under the grounds that the tenure allows teachers to teach the curriculum without having the board of education and board of supervisors containing different views about the specific subjects such as climate change, and simply getting rid of the teacher because they do not agree with the way in which they present a subject.
Each side of this argument has over a 100 witnesses. Welch and Rhee plan on bringing in the voice of the students while the labor unions intend on carrying the voice of the teachers. The tenure policy has offered teachers job security, but has it become a problem? Does it prevent the Educational institution from weeding out bad teachers and keeping the good? The California teacher tenure is up for debate at this time due to such questions, but it is yet to been seen how this will affect the field of teaching nationwide.
By Sarah Widger