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article imageCalifornia appeals court restores state's teacher tenure system

By Nathan Salant     Apr 17, 2016 in Entertainment
Los Angeles - A California appellate court has restored the state's system of awarding job security to teachers after two years on the job.
In a decision long anticipated by opposing parent and teacher groups, a three-judge panel of California's Court of Appeal for the Second District in Los Angeles ruled unanimously last week that teacher tenure laws were not to blame for lousy public schools and bad teachers.
“The challenged statutes do not inevitably lead to the assignment of more inexperienced teachers to schools serving poor and minority children,” Presiding Justice Roger Boren said in the decision, according to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.
“Rather, assignments are made by administrators and are heavily influenced by teacher preference and collective bargaining agreements,” he said.
The decision overturned a trial judge's 2014 ruling that California's job-security rules violated student rights to equal educations by protecting incompetent teachers at the expense of minority and low-income students.
The appellate court said the nine students who brought the lawsuit had failed to prove that laws protecting teachers' jobs were in fact the cause of bad public schools.
Some teachers who had gained job protections may well be ineffective, the court said, but school officials -- not tenure laws -- were responsible for class assignments.
The decision was applauded by teacher unions but decried by Silicon Valley entrepreneur David Welch, whose nonprofit, Students Matter, brought the lawsuit.
"Every student deserves a great public education, yet California's education laws make this impossible," Welch told the newspaper.
But Eric Heins of the 325,000-member California Teachers Association said the ruling would continue "to allow teachers to speak up for our students and advocate for our students without fear of reprisals.”
California tenure laws allows school districts to fire teachers for any reason during their first two years, but require "good cause" for dismissals after that.
The state is one of five in the nation that grants tenure after as short as two years, the newspaper said.
In his 2014 ruling that was appealed, Los Angeles Superior Court Rolf Treu found the state's tenure laws discouraged districts from terminating incompetent teachers because proceedings can take two years or more and cost up to $450,000, and that California's seniority rules force districts to lay teachers off based on seniority, not performance.
More about California, Teacher, tenure, job security, Court
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