California Students Move to Get Rid of Bad Teachers


California students are making a move to get rid of bad teachers by working to get rid of tenure.  Tenure is a hot button topic among educators, students and families of students and has been for several years.  Effectively, tenure is something that all teachers seek in order to secure permanent employment with their school or school district.

Nine California public school students who are picking up this cause argue that tenure allows bad teachers to stay on staff when they have effectively outlived their usefulness as educators.  States across the nation have started to weaken the job protection that teachers have previously enjoyed, largely due to the union coverage they have.

Tenure was created in the early 20th century in order to prevent discriminatory firings.  However, the legal team representing the plaintiffs – a team sponsored by an educational reform group – argue that tenure ties administrative hands when it comes to trying to oust teachers who simply aren’t effective anymore.

There has been a move across the nation to base evaluations on performance rather than seniority, a proposal that sends chills up the spines of teachers with more experience.  According to teachers, though, evaluations based on performance will do nothing but put the focus on standardized testing and unfairly put the crosshairs on older teachers.

As these California students move to get rid of bad teachers, attorneys for the plaintiffs plan to argue that there are several teachers who get tenure simply for showing up to work, and tenure can be received after 18 months in California.  The attorneys also say that the political system has done nothing to help fix the issue of bad teachers in the classroom and that it was time to turn to a legal venue.

Theodore J. Boutros, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, says that many of these substandard teachers are sent to schools that are also performing below par, either due to lack of money going to the school or because of the neighborhood the school is in.

San Jose resident Karen Martinez says her daughter Daniella, who is also a plaintiff in the case, was unable to read until a third grade teacher helped her.  She hopes that the watershed case will give other students the opportunity to be taught by teachers that genuinely strive towards the best possible education for the students under their care.

Teachers, on the other hand, are now fearing for their jobs.  High school teacher Laura Lacar says that if the law is changed, it’s possible that a teacher could be fired simply because a principal doesn’t like him or her.

If California students are successful in their move to get rid of bad teachers, the face of education across the nation could be significantly impacted.  Teachers are currently arguing that if the legislation is changed, there will be teachers with significantly low morale, which could have a significant impact on their teaching ability and whether or not they are able to truly care about the job they do anymore.  It’s often said that teaching is a passion; if this legislation is changed, it will be interesting to see the effect this could have in shaping educational reform across the United States.

By Christina St-Jean


The Christian Science Monitor

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ABC News

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