Wednesday, April 28, 2010

State Legislature takes on Teacher Tenure (SB 955)

Check out the MDUSD Voice Blog. They've written about SB 955 that takes on the issue of tenure reform.

From their blog:
On April 21st, a California legislative education sub-committee voted 5-4 to pass along Senate Bill 955. SB955 revises the teacher layoff notice deadline from March 15 to June 15, removes the seniority provision and allows districts to layoff teachers based on subject needs and teacher effectiveness, and provides school boards the final say when firing a teacher thus shortening the process of removing a teacher from the classroom.

Check it out. Something tells me that parents may be open to changes in this regard, and something else tells me teachers will not. Hmmmm, how do we close that gap? What kind of private sector job can you have that you're essentially guaranteed job security as long as you just keep showing up?

Update: The MDUSD Voice has reported the following:
State Senator Mark DeSaulnier has met with CTA and has decided to support CTA’s decision to oppose the bill. Senator DeSaulnier represents the 7th District which includes all of MDUSD. Senator DeSaulnier’s phone number is (925) 942-6082 or you can email him by going to his website DeSaulnier’s staff could not confirm if the Senator also met with parents in his district to hear their concerns.


  1. There are no jobs that I know of where you have guaranteed employment just for showing up other than government jobs. Maybe the Pope or royalty have the same deal, but that kind of work can be hard to get.

    Firing poor performing teachers regardless of tenure is such a logical approach that it will never fly in California. Once again, the politicians and the CTA will triumph and the parents (ie. the taxpayers who are paying the aformentioned folks' salaries) and the students will pay the price.

  2. The CTA is a criminal organization in my opinion. I wish some of the teachers had the balls to refuse to join.

  3. I used to have respect for teachers. Not anymore. I work near them every day, and they have nothing but contempt for the other workers at schools. A bunch of whiny primadonnas, especially the older ones. If it's too hard to teach more kids, then leave. We're tired of hearing about it.

  4. It's especially boring to hear the upper grade teachers complain when their class sizes stayed the SAME! Get over it already! Teachers have created a dangerous culture now... I will not support them anymore.

  5. Is there anyway we can just fire all the teachers and start over.

    I have never come across such a whiny group of individuals in my life.

  6. I wonder if the teachers know what they have created. This is a topic of conversation at my school in Pleasant Hill too. It's hard on all of us, I know this is their job, but it's our children, so I really wish they'd just at least pretend to care that is the students that are most important and not just their precious paycheck. They can always change jobs... we can't always pick up and move to a new community.

  7. Wow, such vehemence for the keepers of our youth.
    Working with teachers inside classrooms is helpful for a different perspective than is being spittled onto keyboards.

    Perhaps it is that the teachers can't speak the truth of what is happening for fear of being administratively moved to another school that folks don't know, so think and write these things? Perhaps it is because if teachers speak, their evaluation is written differently so that they cannot be selected to continue? It could it be that because there is such current fear of continued workplace loss and morale, where there is no longer joy among children, that the teachers cannot speak about what has happened to their art of teaching?
    Do folks really mean to continue to increase the fear factor around their children? The children have a pretty good idea now. Their classrooms are dirty, their report cards are longer, their afternoon recess is long gone, and they're being tested weekly, if not daily. Would teachers choose this?

    If anyone cares to look beneath the veil of booster and PTA functions most teachers are giving up their pay this year to the tune of 8 to 12 days for youth through similar misunderstandings and pettiness that administrators show during contract negotiat- ions. Or perhaps the commentors here ARE the administrators.

    Teachers are also giving up their training days that the states used to honor to keep up with the inappropriate and 'accelerated and rigorous' state standards. These days were so that when the school board rubber stamped the superintendent's wish to push and test your 3rd grader into junior high and freshman math concepts the teachers might be able to adapt and decipher the inadequate and very expensive (but new) program from the educational corporation that lobbied the hardest and longest, and your school District just mistakenly purchased. Oops! May have to wait 3 to 5 years to change to something the students and parents understand.

    Would teachers choose this? Ask the administrative layers that suck your tax cream off the top at county, district, region and state levels how much they sacrificed 'for the children' from their annual $130,000 wage and benefit package this year.

    Teachers are also having to give up things like health benefits and maternity leave, if any still had such vestigial benefits like all other state workers.

    Teachers have been supplementing your child's or grandchild's education both financially and emotionally for years. Those that are ungrateful for these underpaid stewards of our social, economic, and environmental future need to take a long look in the mirror to see if there is perhaps another reason there is such unhappiness. Volunteer at a school sometime. Our youth need human communicators to balance their virtual one. The classroom aide was the first to be cut years ago,
    unless yours has special needs....

  8. Anon 3:50 pm:
    I'd love to volunteer more in the MDUSD, but wait, the union won't let me. I'd love to go pull weeds, but wait, the union won't let me. I know a lot of teachers, and yes, I agree that it is exasperating and degrading to be required to do so much, with less and less resources, but that is the extremely unfortunate situation the CA state legislators have put us in. It is time for teachers and all district staff to buck up, and prove to the community that you are the professionals we need them to be. Get on with the job at hand and stop taking a defeatist attitude, it serves no one well.

    As parents, we can't and won't wait around for the state to do the right thing. Let us into the classrooms, let us help the kids who are struggling, before they get caught in a downward spiral they can never recover from.

    A parent, and a teacher

  9. "I'd love to go pull weeds, but wait, the union won't let me". I don't know what worries me more, the fact that people make statements like this that if you stop to think about you know are outrageous or that people might actually beleive these things. Where did all of this hatred for teachers come from?

  10. Poor performing teachers can be and are fired all the time. the reason some are still teaching is because districts can't find replacement for them. I have seen bad teachers but most teachers I have met have been good hardworking and descent people. To broad brush everyone for political gains and threaten to fire all teacher because you think they may not be doing a good job or to replace experienced teachers with people off the street that last one or two years is plain foolish. Yes everyone thinks they can teach until they step into a classroom with 37 freshmen some of whom have no intention of learning and every intention of disrupting the class.

  11. Americans are so used to getting kicked out of their jobs that it has become acceptable for employers to just throw you out without any reason or any protection from the law. Wake up people you don’t live to work. Today is the teachers tomorrow it would be you . And I am sure once they get rid of the teachers union there would be no more talk of education and how your children do not get the education they deserve. Those “caring” politicians who in reality don’t give a damn about your child’s education will be silenced forever and you will be at the mercy of some off the wall school in your neighborhood that charges you up the ass and gives you nothing in return and education will die just like many other things that quietly die in this country without any objections from our passive and obedient people. The things that this government gets away with in this country from throwing people out on the street to their oil spills and theft of taxpayers money to bailing out banks robbing the future a generation each would cause a revolution in other countries. Not here though they can screw you all they want and you will be just as miserable as ever but you won’t dare objecting because they have the power.

  12. It's a great idea to get rid of the ineffective teachers, this is a win-win.

  13. I am a CA education attorney. The first 2-3 years usually weed out the teachers who are not up to the 10-12 hour work days; during this time teachers are constantly observed. After this 2-3 evaluation period, a teacher can be tenured. There are not many other professions that require a 2-3 year evaluation process. A tenured teacher can be fired, and many are fired. Regulations for teacher firings are identical to any other profession. A lay-off is another matter. Teacher use a seniority to system when lay-offs are required.

    It is *lay-offs* that are the recent issue in CA schools. Most all professions use some sort of fair system when having to lay-off employees; arbitrary systems for lay-offs are never used because it is not smart business and lawsuits can follow. At this point, teachers use a *seniority ranking system* (as do many professions) as a type of point system to help the school district make decisions about who to lay off in the case of an economic crisis. Those with more experience with teaching get "more points" to help guide the school district with some sort of a *fair* system, in this case a seniority system.

    The seniority system really works to help protect California students. If school districts in California where able to fire the more experienced teachers with seniority, they would unquestionably do so. Teachers with seniority make much more money than those teachers in their first few years. CA schools are hurting and need to scrape up cash from anyplace they can. The end result is that CA *students* will be learning from less experienced teacher, inside an unpredictable employment environment.

    The bill SB 955 eliminates any possibility for a teacher who receives a lay off notice to have a fair hearing. Teacher due process is eliminated with the bill. Therefore, SB 955 allows a school district to get rid of a teacher for any reason at any time. There is no other profession I know of in California (or anywhere) that has such arbitrary standards for getting rid of an employee. SB 955 allows lay off without any cause. If you think no CA school board would get rid of teachers without cause, think again. School boards have no contact with teachers, and have no idea who they are (in most cases). SB 955 allows the school board the ultimate decision.

    Getting rid of teachers becomes a "free for all" with SB 955, and school districts are allowed to save money by riding themselves of teachers with the higher salaries. If you read SB 955 in its entirety, and esp. before amended, it will become clear to you what the intent is.

    Most people commenting here have no idea what SB 955 says. By the way, if teachers at MDUSD complain too much, if you think CTA is a criminal organization, if you are tired of hearing how difficult it is for teachers, perhaps a reminder about "walking in another's shoes" is warranted. As humans, it is so easy for us to point the finger. I worked as a substitute teacher for two weeks and--while I'm usually calm and composed--I quickly became a wreck. As a teacher, you get no breaks, a 10-15 minute lunch, you cannot go the the restroom when you need to (so you are holding it all day long..and this means you cannot drink water, or liquids all day), you have meetings everyday after the school day (about student test scores, committee work, or other state mandates) and then you go home to correct papers and plan for the day.

    A teacher work day is about 10-12 hours, with no breaks, and constantly on (every second) with student needs. I would not be able to do it, and many people commenting here would not be able to do it. So, who will become CA teachers? If SB 955 passes, inexperienced first and second year teachers, those on the lower end of the pay schedule, and California students will ultimately pay the price for a new *sub-standard* education.

  14. Teachers need a fair system of employment standards to ensure our children are taught in a fair and sane environment. Teachers can already be fired; CA state law allows school boards the decision to fire tenured teacher for cause (required by law for any CA profession). Many parents seem to think that a tenured teacher gets to keep their job no matter what. That is not true. It seems that idea is floating out their in the media, but check out the facts. The first 2-3 years a teacher works is an evaluation period. Most CA occupations require an evaluation period of 2-3 months! After a teacher evaluation period, a teacher is "tenured." All this means is that there are now a Permanent Employee, rather than a Temporary Employee. A teacher works their first 2-3 years as a temporary employee, with no ongoing contract. Tenure does not mean a teacher can't be let go.

    SB 955 allows school boards to let go of a teacher, any teacher, for any reason, at any time....there does not even have to be cause (or a good reason). If parents think school boards will keep the good teachers, the excellent teachers, and let the "bad" teachers go (provided SB 955 passes), they are WRONG.

    School boards never observe classrooms, do not know the teachers, nor do they discuss teacher performance. What is the #1 item school boards discuss: Budget, fiscal policy.

    Given SB 955 passes, allowing school boards the green light to lay-off any teacher they'd like, guess what the first thought will be? Yes! Money. At the time of this economic crisis, school boards will be allowed to save money by laying-off experienced teachers who get paid a much higher salary.

    So, who will be teaching our children? Yes! Inexperienced teachers who have no yet made the commitment to become a professional, permanent teacher. Our California schools will be filled with temporary teachers, without contracts, and our schools will reflect this. CA schools will become unpredictable environments and our children will be in classrooms with inexperienced, non-committed, temporary teachers, constantly changing.

    I'd rather have that 'ol hag (one comment mentioned), than a partying young inexperienced temp. straight out of college. SB 055 is not good for California children. It is not good for our educational system.

    Think about the long term effects of undermining fair policy for those employed as teachers. SB 955 says nothing of implementation of an evaluation system to retain outstanding teachers. It is not about that. There is nothing in SB 955 that safeguards excellent teaching.

  15. Ok attorney, what part of "at will" do YOU not understand? What are you talking about that there is no other profession with arbitrary termination procedures. That is what "AT WILL" employment is. Give me a break! Nowhere in your rant did you talk about "performance." You sound like you're a teacher union/ CTA attorney. Do I have that right?

  16. To answer the question one previous commentary asked, "no, I'm not a teacher, nor from CTA/NEA." I did substitute for 2 weeks, so that experience taught me a lot about how difficult teaching is as an occupation.

    You said, "no where in [my] rant did I talk about 'performance'." If you read the bill, SB 955, you'll find that teacher "performance" is not addressed at all. If you want an better educational evaluation system for teachers, then you'll have to create (or help draft) an assembly or senate bill for that purpose. SB 955 does not create, nor address, the teacher evaluation system. The bill itself has nothing to do with keeping on excellent teachers, and letting go of ineffective teachers.

    SB 955 allows school boards to lay-off teachers in any way they want to. There is no California standard evaluation process for teachers, and school boards do not evaluate teacher performance.

    If better "performance" is what people want from teachers, I don't think that will occur by implementing unpredictable, unjust employment standards. SB 955 takes away a seniority ranking system that has been customarily used in times of economic crisis when lay-offs are necessary with permanent, professional teachers.

    I mention my profession as attorney only because I have read and evaluated SB 955 from that standpoint. Truly, it is my children I am concerned about. I don't want my children to get their education from temporary teachers (who are lower on the pay schedule and the likely candidates to keep their jobs under provisions of SB 955 which allows school boards to lay-off teachers to save the school district money.)