Thursday, September 19, 2013

VERGARA VS. CALIFORNIA : EQUAL PROTECTION VS. TEACHER PROTECTION


The first article I copied below I previously put up on the preceding thread. Due to the significance of this lawsuit  I decided I would put up it again in its own post. I also included a second article that follows the first. That one is reprinted from the Huffington Post. 

Vergara vs. California is the most significant lawsuit to date to address the issue of teacher protectionism and the Constitutional rights of children to receive a public education.  A group of us will be meeting with a representative of the plaintiff to give accounts of how ineffective teachers have harmed the education of our own children. If anyone is interested in attending this meeting please email me at sfedblog@gmail.com. The meeting takes place next Monday evening so don't delay. It is imperative that we support this lawsuit for the benefit of our children and to help teachers out from under the shackles of their own failed union leadership.

Make no mistake about it, this is a major piece of litigation that will either dilute the protections of the teachers' unions and protect and empower students. or will  enshrine teacher protections. It will either dislodge  the status quo  protections of teachers or, conversely, go another step further in making them ironclad.  However, should the plaintiffs ultimately lose it will likely end up on the California ballot. Currently, polling suggests that such a proposition would easily win.  So if the case loses in LA and eventually  on appeal in the appellate court and the California Supreme Court, a successful ballot initiative could propel it to the USSC. That would be something the unions would like to avoid at all costs.
 
 First Artcile

Los Angeles, CA – Yesterday afternoon, the nonprofit group Students Matter (www.studentsmatter.org) sponsored a groundbreaking lawsuit against the State of California and the California Department of Education to strike down outdated state laws that prevent the recruitment, support and retention of effective teachers. The lawsuit focuses on improving overall teacher effectiveness because of the critical role teachers play in their students’ lifetime achievement.

The lawsuit asks the court to strike down state statutes related to the guarantee of permanent employment after only minimal and cursory reviews; bureaucratic procedures that make it prohibitively expensive and timeconsuming to dismiss ineffective teachers; and LastIn FirstOut (LIFO) senioritybased layoffs that ignore teacher effectiveness. Unlike many previous education lawsuits brought against the state, the lawsuit sponsored by Students Matter would impact all school districts throughout California.

Students Matter consulted with a range of education experts and organizations in the development of the lawsuit to determine how to best bring about improvement in student achievement, and has formed an Advisory Committee which includes Alliance for a Better Community, Students for Education Reform, Democrats for Education Reform, Parent Revolution, Students First, The Education TrustWest and New Schools Venture Fund (partial list).

Theodore J. Boutrous and Theodore B. Olson, two of the lead attorneys who are fighting to overturn Proposition 8 in federal court on behalf of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, head up the Students Matter legal team.

“These state laws create inequalities by depriving students taught by ineffective teachers of the fundamental right to education guaranteed by the state constitution, and they have a disproportionately negative effect on lowincome and minority students, ” said Mr. Boutrous. “The statutes prevent school administrators from prioritizing or even considering the interests of their students when making employment and dismissal decisions. The number of grossly ineffective teachers is small, but their impact on students is enormous.”

Studies show that teachers have the greatest impact on students’ lifetime achievement. Students taught by effective teachers are more likely to attend college, attend higherranked colleges, earn higher salaries, reside in higher quality neighborhoods, and save for retirement. According to one of the nation’s foremost economists, teachers near the top of the quality distribution can get an entire year’s worth of additional learning out of their students compared to those near the bottom.

Students taught by grossly ineffective teachers suffer lifelong problems and fail to recover from this disadvantage. One recent study found that a student who is taught by a single ineffective teacher remains “stuck below grade level” for years to come. Another recent study found that replacing a grossly ineffective teacher with even an average teacher would increase students’ cumulative lifetime income by a total of $1.4 million per classroom taught by that teacher. (See http://studentsmatter.org/resources/)

“The mission of Students Matter is to help improve student achievement in California by enhancing the overall teaching environment,” said Students Matter founder Dave Welch. “We are challenging a system that was fashioned by special interests and has burdened our schools with an inflexible environment for hiring and retaining the best teachers. This system is not designed to benefit students, and that’s unacceptable.”

The lawsuit also names the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and the Alum Rock Union School District as defendants in the claim. Recent reports estimate that in the Los Angeles Unified School District alone, there are approximately 1,000 or more teachers who are grossly ineffective; these teachers are responsible for teaching on average 30,000 or more students annually. In a recent survey, 68 percent of teachers reported that there are grossly ineffective tenured teachers currently working in their schools who should be dismissed for poor performance.

High poverty schools serving predominantly Latino and AfricanAmerican students often have a disproportionate share of the least effective teachers. A recent study of the LAUSD found that a lowincome student is more than twice as likely to have a low valueadded English Language Arts teacher as a higher income peer, and 66 percent more likely to have a lowvalue added math teacher.

“Achievement gaps will persist unless we can reform an educational system that results in our highest need students often being taught by the least effective teachers,” said Arun Ramanathan, Executive Director of The Education TrustWest. “ETW strongly supports the efforts of the plaintiffs in this suit to challenge and fix the state laws that allow these inequities to persist.”

Students Matter is committed to ensuring that all of California’s children receive a quality education. Numerous studies show that teachers have the greatest impact on student achievement. Teacher effectiveness has more impact on student achievement than class size, education spending, teacher pay, or student demographics/background. Students Matter is filing a lawsuit to dismantle the outdated and unsuccessful laws that prevent the recruitment, support and retention of the most effective teachers, so that all our children can have access to a quality education. For more information, please go to studentsmatter.org.


SECOND ARTICLE


 Firing Teachers: Students Matter, Silicon Valley Nonprofit, Files Lawsuit Challenging California Teacher Protection Laws

                                                                                                                                                      By                                                                                                                                           





Earlier this year, the Sacramento-based nonprofit EdVoice brought suit against Los Angeles Unified over the pro forma way it conducts teacher evaluations. But here, the suit isn't seeking to overturn the Stull Act, which defines how evaluations are done; it says that the district (along with nearly every other one) has chosen to ignore the law's requirement that student performance be included in teacher evaluations.


firing teachers
There's no shortage of critics of the tenure, dismissal, and layoff laws, which teachers unions have lobbied hard to preserve. California is one of few states that have not lengthened the probationary period for teachers. More than two dozen states have strengthened their evaluation systems in the past several years. California's dismissal law, with its 10-step process laden with due process, can cost districts hundreds of thousands of dollars to fire a teacher on the grounds of unsatisfactory performance, which is why districts often work around it by paying teachers to retire or pushing them from one school to another.


Persuading a judge that the practical problems and the effects of the laws rise to the level of a constitutional violation is another matter. (In an analogous case, California is among the nation's bottom spenders on K-12 education; it has tough standards and a challenging student population. But attorneys last year failed to convince a Superior Court judge in Robles-Wong v. California and Campaign for Quality Education v. California that adequate education funding is a constitutional right.)


TOUGH BURDEN OF PROOF


The tenure law may be particularly challenging. As the suit points out, something like 98 percent of probationary teachers have gotten tenure. The two-year probationary period (actually 18 months, since teachers must be notified by March of their second year) is not long enough. Too often evaluations have been slapdash. But the law itself doesn't require a district even to cite a cause in denying tenure; the power of dismissal lies with the employer.

Students named in the lawsuit are from Los Angles Unified, Pasadena Unified, Sequoia Union High School District, and Alum Rock Union Elementary District, although only Los Angeles Unified and Alum Rock, which serves 11,000 students in San Jose, are specifically cited as defendants, along with Gov. Brown, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, the State Board of Education, the state, and the State Department of Education.
The only specific reference to Alum Rock was in the identification of plaintiff Daniella Martinez, 10, whom the lawsuit says chose to transfer to a public charter school because "of the substantial risk that she would be assigned to a grossly ineffective teacher who impedes her equal access to the opportunity to receive a meaningful education." The initial filing doesn't cite evidence of specific teachers who negatively affected Daniella or the other seven defendants. It refers to studies by such groups as the National Council On Teacher Quality, which issued a blunt assessment of the tenure and dismissal practices of Los Angeles Unified, and on research by Hoover Institution author Eric Hanushek, who concludes that just by dismissing 6 to 10 percent of weakest teachers, students' academic achievement and long-term earnings as adults would increase significantly.

Los Angeles, as the state's largest district, may have been named as a defendant because its superintendent, John Deasy, has been outspoken about the need to change labor laws. United Teachers Los Angeles has also sued over a comprehensive teacher evaluation system that Deasy has put in place.

Deasy would appear to be a friendly witness for the plaintiffs. In a statement, he said he supports lengthening the probationary period, quickening the dismissal process, and reforming the state's layoff law. "To my dismay, we have lost thousands of our best and hardest-working classroom instructors through the last hired, first fired rule. When forced to reduce our teaching staff through budget cuts, we are compelled through state law and union rules to base these difficult decisions primarily on seniority," Deasy said.
But when questioned, Deasy will be pressed to acknow
ledge that it may not be the laws but the implementation that counts. Since joining the district, first as deputy superintendent, then superintendent, Deasy has pushed administrators to apply more scrutiny in granting tenure and more perseverance in dismissing bad teachers. Last year the district terminated 853 teachers. Furthermore, the number of probationary teachers denied tenure rose significantly last year: from 89 in 2009-10 (10 percent of those eligible) to 120 teachers in their first year and 30 in their second year. Other superintendents would agree that well-trained, persistent principals can document the case for teacher dismissals, notwithstanding cumbersome, excessively burdensome requirements.

John Fensterwald is the editor and co-writer of TOPed.org. Follow him on Twitter (@jfenster). Read more of his work and more at www.toped.org.



114 comments:

Don Krause said...

From LA SChool REport

A Vergara bombshell?

Mark your calendars: the trial for Vergara v. California is currently slated to start January 27, 2014. The plaintiffs are seeking to overturn five California education statutes: seniority-based layoffs, teacher tenure, and three dismissal statutes that make firing a teacher so onerous. If the plaintiffs win, it would be the biggest change for public education in California since the passage of Proposition 13. Could that really happen?

Yes.

Anonymous said...

You are evildoers and will not get away with this. Dennis Kelly will have you people for lunch. You will be disgraced like your hero Christina Miller and Omar the sellout of all sellouts.

Anonymous said...

You really have to stop blaming teachers for poor scholastic performance. The whole curriculum is geared towards straight white anglo protestant males to the exclusion of everyone else. It's so convenient yet so morally wrong. We will fight to defend our honor. Teachers are not in the home, do not control whether kids yell, are not there on the weekends, and cannot prevent children from being shot, raped, molested, abused, chased, stabbed, screamed at, horrified and overdosed with malicious chemicals from evil polluting corporations. There is often poison in their playgrounds, in their running water. The CIA is flooding their neighborhood with drugs and holding gladiator contests to decide who gets the money, pitting black gang against Latino gang in gunfights to the death on a daily basis. And you want to blame teachers. How convenient? We will defeat this malicious and slanderous attack on our integrity! You are in cahoots with evil doers. You are no better than Al Quaeda. You are blaming teachers when you should look in the mirror! You have the problem!

Don Krause said...

Teachers have some influence on student performance. How much is widely discussed and is debatable. All the studies show that home, culture and personal factors are a much larger influence. So I do understand your point, but it is overstated. However... the CIA flooding neighborhoods with drugs? Must be your neighborhood too.

In any case, if teachers can't be blamed for some portion of poor achievement than they can't be credited for some portion of better achievement. Maybe we should evaluate them on their ability to juggle.

If you can't identify poor teachers, then neither can you identify good teachers. So you want no teachers to get rewarded for success because that would mean that poor teachers would have to be devalued for failure and there's the rub.


You're going down into a deep dark hole. Please do yourself a favor (and us too) and come back out to the light of day. There are reasonable people in this world who don't agree with you and they aren't terrorist!!!

Anonymous said...

I don't even know how to begin to respond to this. Whose fault is it that kids are in school 1,000 hours a year for 13 years and are funcationally illiterate and can't do well in college or get an advanced job? Their parents? Or are their parents just the liberal victims of the evil CIA and polluting companies? Or is it the curriculum? Sorry to say it, but most people who wrote the constitution were WASP males, and I've seen the textbooks, they go way out of their way to include everyone, making lions of minor historical figures. Who is chasing, raping, stabbing, shooting, molesting? It's people in the same community. How is this society's fault? If it is, how to Asian kids in the same neighborhood avoid being shot/chasted/stabbed/molested/polluted and still do well in life? What does this have to do with terorism? How are we attacking teachers saying that some are better than others? I find this whole post random and extremely disturbing.

Anonymous said...

We are going to kick your thug illiterate selfish union asses back to where you belong. The 19th Century.

Don Krause said...

10:54: I'm leaving your comment up as another example of the extremes. Can we have an intelligent conversation? Can we all just get along?

Don Krause said...


Despite opposition from Sacramento, voters overwhelmingly favor policies that ensure California’s public schools are staffed with quality teachers.


Widespread Support for Effective Teaching Despite Opposition in Sacramento
September 05, 2013 05:51 PM


by Students Matter

The USC Rossier School of Education and Policy Analysis for California Education released a new poll this week showing that voters overwhelmingly favor policies that ensure California’s public schools are staffed with quality teachers. The poll confirms what we have known for some time—politicians in Sacramento are far out of touch with the average voter when it comes to improving California’s schools.

California voters know our schools are failing our students—only 10% would give our schools a grade of ‘A’ or ‘B’—and most support policies to recruit, support and retain quality educators. Across party lines, Californians want to make sure that teachers are supported with adequate resources and professional development and think they should be rewarded when they succeed. Voters also believe, however, that teachers should be removed from the classroom if they aren’t contributing to student learning. Over 80% of California voters believe student achievement should play at least some role in teacher evaluations. And most would agree that some teachers are simply not cut out to be in the classroom.

Yet despite voters’ agreement on common sense strategies to improve our schools, California’s politicians consistently oppose meaningful attempts to repair our broken system.

Last year, Governor Jerry Brown and State Superintendent Tom Torlakson chose to set aside student needs and conceded to pressure from the California Teachers Association, refusing to incorporate teacher evaluations based on student achievement data into the state’s application for a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Then legislators, even after hearing from parents—some of whom had traveled hundreds of miles to be heard—failed students again by killing a bill in committee that would have required more frequent evaluations of veteran teachers. Over the past year alone, California legislators have bailed on every bill that would have implemented a more robust evaluation system for teachers. California legislators were not even able to pass a bill making it easier to remove child abusers from the classroom.

California’s education system is broken. State laws force administrators to award virtually all new teachers permanent employment after only 18 months on the job; then make it nearly impossible to dismiss even the most persistently and egregiously underperforming teachers; while simultaneously forcing districts to make layoff decisions based solely on seniority. The system tosses out some of our very best teachers simply because they started later, while entrenching substantially underperforming teachers in the classroom. These laws violate the constitutional rights of children arbitrarily assigned to the classrooms of grossly ineffective teachers and hurt minority and low-income children the most.

The pattern is clear— there is a total lack of political will in Sacramento to stand up to entrenched special interests and do what is best for students, despite overwhelming public demand for them to do so.

Students Matter is sponsoring Vergara v. California to strike down a system of laws that would never exist if we put students’ rights first. Only after removing these barriers to change will we be able to move forward and develop a new system that affirms every student’s right to a quality education.

Pictured: California State Capitol (Source: The Los Angeles Times, latimes.com

Anonymous said...

The Students Matter case will win. Proving the unconstitutionality of the teacher protection laws in California is a slam dunk.

Anonymous said...

We won't get away with what? And who is "we"?

The validity of your outmoded teacher protections will be heard before a judge and a jury and your leadership will be given an opportunity to defend those protections. A decision will be rendered and you will either be able to continue to do children a disservice or you won't. But you'll have your day in court. Do you have a problem with that, too?

Anonymous said...

You are trying to buy the courts. Seniority and Tenure were put into the State Constitution. Last in, First Out. Who will pay for all the suicides? The schools will be sued fer 20-30 million for each suicide, blood, and dollars, will flow through our streets. There will be riots if you treat people like this. LIFO can only be overturned by proposition, and you know you put this on the ballot in 2006 and lost as it came out that you were holding secret meetings in which you were villainizing teachers.

The truth will come out again, and you will lose. We will unify against racism and hatred of all kinds. We will fight for our right to have a job and not be fired.

What happens to someone who teaches 30 years and gets fired because they have a bad year, can they get another job? They go on social security, then they barely get any as they get older. Many senior citizens choose between food and medicine. Many poor choose between starvation and a risk of prison. We will fight you, and we will win! This lawsuit is a racist affront to our State.

Don Krause said...

I deleted several comments because they were all about racism in America and had no relationship whatsoever to the topic of this thread. Let me be clear, I was not censoring out commentary that I did or did not agree with. I removed it because it was entirely off the topic of either this particular court case or the general topic of the employment of teachers.

AB said...

There are so many opportunities for improvement within our public education system, teacher improvement is only one - albeit an important one.

As state earlier, this is a critical lawsuit: If they win it will signal others that reform is possible. If the suit fails it will bolster the status-quo protectionists to block other badly needed reforms. We must continue to evolve our public education model - improve curriculum and add resources to give our children every opportunity to excel as they prepare for life.

If this were a political campaign I would fear that the debate is not being framed correctly, but since it is a court case I trust that any noise from the protected special interests will not play into the decision, that intellect and logic will prevail. I would frame this as the ability to recognize and reward excellent teachers and, yes, counsel, retrain, and sometimes terminate those at the opposite end of the spectrum.

Anonymous said...

AB, do you realize that when you terminate someone's livelihood and career that sometimes you also terminate their life when they commit suicide? Did you read about all the suicides? Also, how do you think teachers feel seeing a colleague get a bonus they don't get? How would that make you feel? Pay should be based on seniority, which gives us security and something to look forward to. You're trying to pressure us to stay later and later, never miss a sick day, get tons of other people sick, plagues will spread, many people will cry themelves to sleep, you are not making the world a better place. You are a stooge. You should work with us, not against us. Try volunteering or raising your own child to value education more and respect their teachers. You don't teach respect by threatening people.

Anonymous said...

4:32

The reason why you have a job is to teach kids. It isn't to keep you from committing suicide.

Anonymous said...

4:32, didn't you berate the one Korean mother in your class who asked you how she could help her daughter get a better education and do work sheets and study more and work harder and make excuses for parents who are not doing nearly as much for their children?

Anonymous said...

This may seem obvious, but do we really want people who can't take some well-deserved bad news without killing themselves to be teaching our children?

Anonymous said...

That's just great, so now you're seriously going to blame the victim?

Don Krause said...

If you cited an increase in teacher suicides as a defense in court they would laugh you out of town.

Moving on to the real world, if this case doesn't ultimately win in the California Supreme Court, which is obviously where it is headed, it will be a huge loss for students and set back the cause of reform for years to come. (This is far more important than LCFF) But people didn't decline to fight for civil rights in the sixties because they thought they might lose. They fought because they knew that their cause was worthy. And so we fight for students and for a teaching profession that will be bolstered by a positive outcome. With fewer low quality teachers in the classroom there will be a job boom for new hires. I hope that a win is followed by increased pay for those teachers who outperform. Imagine that, incentives.

Anonymous said...

The great recession. I've had a few drinks LOL. I am drinking to celebrate the fact that LIFO will never change not one iota. We need to incentivize teachers, not villainize them.

Anonymous said...

Before I begin, I'd like to point out that many teacher tenure and seniority laws predate the right of teachers to bargain collectively by many years. (The UFT was not founded until 1960). These laws were passed due to rampant corruption in hiring and firing practices and were designed to protect academic freedom and basic constitutional rights.

1. Seniority rights protect not only teachers, but children.
Teachers are often the strongest advocates for their children, all too often coming up against their supervisors in doing so. Without seniority rights, teachers would be susceptible to arbitrary lay-offs based on a myriad of possibilities including race, sexuality, politics, or advocacy for children and/or parents. In my more than ten years in the classroom, and in policy and advocacy work over the last several years I have seen countless dedicated and excellent educators attacked, harassed, given U-ratings, and in some cases pushed out of the school system as retribution by administrators. Children benefit from the only objective process that keeps their teachers from being silenced, unable to speak out, or defend their rights and advocate for proper learning and classroom conditions.

2. I flatly reject any evaluation or lay-off system that is tied to test scores especially the inclusion of a merit pay system.
Over the last year in particular, the unreliability of test scores have been exposed. We have seen mountains of research, including the Vanderbilt and EPI studies respectively, point out that merit-pay schemes and other test-score-based performance measures do not have a positive impact on student achievement. Standardized tests often do little more than measure socioeconomic status, narrow our curriculum and turn our schools into inhumane places that make teaching and learning horrific experiences for teachers and students alike. I left the testing grade this year because I no longer wanted to be complicit in what I consider to be the systematic abuse of my children, particularly children with special needs. I say this as a teacher with a 'teacher report card' with a 99% rating. I am all for accountability, but until we develop objective and meaningful measures to hold teachers accountable, seniority rights for lay-offs is the only way to ensure both educators and students are protected. In terms of evaluations, I refuse to be forced into a scenario where we say the current system is flawed so therefore we must quickly make changes and move to yet another flawed system. If we are going to change the way we evaluate educators, let's do it the right way. Let standardized test scores be minimized, or better yet, no factor at all in any new evaluation system. Remember, assessment is supposed to be a diagnostic tool used to drive instruction, not used as a punitive measure to determine the value of teachers, children, and schools.

Anonymous said...

3. Experience Matters.
All the research shows that experience matters. If we want to make decisions about what teachers to keep in the profession, we have to look at what the research overwhelmingly shows: teachers with five or more years experience are better for children than teachers with less than five years experience. The Star Report highlights this particularly well because it does not just rely on test scores (which I mentioned already I question) but it also looks at adult income levels (not that I believe making money is the key to happiness, but it certainly is a key to survival and therefore the most basic measure of success). *(Research on teacher experience can be found at www.parentsacrossamerica.org.)

4. The attack on LIFO is quite simply union busting.
The corporate reformers who are behind the attack on LIFO and interestingly behind the two organizations featured on the TFA panel (Students First and E4E) are quite simply anti-union. A blind belief in the free market does not allow them to see beyond their own needs and benefits; it colors their lenses green with one central focus: money. Cost containment and unfettered top-down control are at the roots of the attack on LIFO and anyone who tells you otherwise either doesn't understand the issue or is engaging in misdirection. Getting rid of teacher protections is the only way that corporate reformers can continue to privatize our public education system. Unions are the only institution that can stand in their way, along with the voting public who are growing more aware of the true intentions of the corporate reformers. I believe there are well-intentioned people who support ending LIFO — dedicated teachers who inevitably have had to work with a teacher who was not as dedicated as them, as one example. But the drive to end LIFO (and the funding for it) is not coming from these teachers or from well-intentioned individuals. Rather it is born out of a national movement to change our school system into a 'portfolio', into a consumer-driven, profit margin aware, business-like entity. We are entering very dangerous territory. Just look at the number of stories emerging of abusive principals who target certain teachers who stand up to them or do not pay the proper fealty. When this happens to even one teacher it brings a cloud over the security of every teacher. Even if your current principal is fine, there are enough loose cannons out there and it takes just a change in leadership to turn a "safe" school into a school from hell. Let us remember why we have unions: protection. Let us remember why we must have these protections: a history of child labor, unsafe conditions, unfair wages, no healthcare, no pension or other retirement support mechanisms. Instead of attacking teachers for having union protections, we should be demanding that ALL workers have these protections.

Anonymous said...

5. Ending seniority rights will have a disproportionate and negative impact on our disappearing black and Latino educators.
Does racial discrimination still exist in our society? Contrary to what E4E's position paper on this issue falsely claims, under the Bloomberg Administration our Black and Latino teachers have been disappearing at an alarming rate (new hires of Black teachers dropped from 28% to under 14% over 8 years). Seniority rights is one of the last protections we have that we know for sure will maintain the tragically low number of Black and Latino teachers we have left. In a system that serves more than 80% children of color, it is unacceptable that more than 70% of its educators are white. In addition to this issue, we already have an attrition problem here in NYC, more than 40% of our teachers leave with less than six years in! Knowing the value of having Black and Latino teachers for Black and Latino students and knowing the value of experienced educators, it is quite shocking the focus is on how to get rid of teachers easier, rather than on how to attract and retain teachers in general, and particularly, teachers of color.

Anonymous said...

6. There is no legitimate evidence that seniority rights as a system-wide determinant for lay-offs has a negative impact on our public education system.
Yes, you can find anecdotal evidence to hold up a given less experienced educator next to a more experienced educator and say, given these two, the less experienced educator looks better. But system-wide the research clearly shows that is not true. When difficult decisions like layoffs must be made (which I would argue in this case are unnecessary and manipulated for political reasons) they have to be made on a system-wide basis — in the collective interest. We are moving into dangerous ground when the individual assumes more importance than the collective. The nature of our work as educators makes us very interconnected. How we value our schools, our teachers, and workers' rights are important factors in making sure we preserve our ability to build a society rather than simply a random assortment of individuals in competition with each other. Schools must be collaborative places. Schools must be places where educators feel safe to speak up and speak out.

Finally, let me talk about what I am for, and I hope that folks will join in this conversation, because if we don't propose the kinds of systems we would like for evaluations and lay-offs, the issue will be decided for us by people who have little knowledge or understanding. I will keep my thoughts very simple. Please, please share yours:

1. Lay-offs
We should maintain seniority rights for lay-offs because it is the only objective way to release and re-hire teachers in an orderly and rational manner. The research shows that system-wide this is what benefits children because experience matters. This is the only way to ensure that lay-offs are not used politically or economically in order to cleanse the system of either outspoken or experienced/more expensive teachers. LIFO also protects even fairly new teachers, assuring even 2nd and 3rd year teachers they will keep their jobs over some first year teacher with "connections" while assuring an orderly call-back in case there are layoffs (which in fact there rarely ever been in the entire over hundred year history of the NYC school system.)

2. Evaluations
We must empower school-communities. We should look at Deb Meier's work in some of her pilot schools, and consider those models. I believe in school-based boards that are comprised of parents, teachers, school staff, and administration. I believe these boards should have oversight over teacher evaluation, administrator evaluation, and budgeting. I believe evaluations should be judged based on classroom observations, student input when appropriate, parent satisfaction, and some measure of data. I would like to see a teacher evaluated based on authentic student reading levels over a period of time along with portfolios of student work showing students' individual growth and progress rather than the snapshot we get from standardized test scores.

Anonymous said...

No one should ever laugh at someone for committing suicide, in town or out of town. That's just wrong. I strongly disagree with this approach. It's just not a laughing matter.

Anonymous said...

There are other ways to deal with situations than firing people. It seems to be the new trend in America, but it is a devastating and hateful act!

Anonymous said...

Agreed, nothing is funny about suicide. Teachers deserve a second chance if something goes awry. Providing support and help to teachers is a better and more holistic path forward. We can do this together. Firing is too confrontational. There are ways to partner with teachers and give them the support they need. If it becomes possible to fire teachers because someone declares them "bad" it will disincentivize programs which partner with teachers to fix the problem as a team, not as one individual humiliating another in a brutal confrontation that may or may not end in death. Let's be one, let's build a better society all, not have a testing and firing free for all which ends in winners and losers. Let's unify! We win or lose together!

Anonymous said...

I think we can solve this problem withot being so extreme. This lawsuit is extreme and very scary. Republicans should not be able to do this to working people.

AB said...

re: suicides - please provide verifiable evidence of suicides caused be terminations for cause.

I do not have a problem with rewarding experience (seniority) - include it as a factor in the evaluation. The more experience you have, the better you should be at your job.

It is my opinion that teachers often do not get the respect they deserve, but I also believe that respect is earned. Teaching is a noble profession, rewarding people solely based on how long they have been at the job rather than on the positive impact they have on students sends our kids the wrong message that mediocrity is acceptable instead of incenting them to strive for excellence.

Don Krause said...

There's a lot of good information in many of the previous posts. Certainly Debra Meiers is a reasoned voice and I personally agree with much of her writings, not all.


However, the suit itself is about the constitutionality of the five named California statutes that have to do with tenure, seniority, etc. This what is being argued. One can make a case on way or another about the effects of tenure, for example, on educational outcomes. This is a subject with no shortage of studies, opinions and political significance. Even if it was demonstrated that tenure, applied to a large group of teachers was shown to be a benefit to students as a whole, this would not invalidate the constitutionality question as it applies to the individual. It is the individual that is at issue in regard to constitutional rights. The suit is about equal protection under law. If student A is in a classroom with a highly effective teacher and student B is in a classroom with a highly ineffective teacher, has the constitutional rights of student B been violated?

Should the case prevail, the question as to how to evaluate teachers will have to be answered. Currently there are no or few de facto evaluations. Even the most derelict teachers remain on the job due to costs associated with a labyrinthine process of removing them And the teacher's union have pushed hard to pass AB375 which would also allow child molesters who teach to also stay on the job. So it is easy to understand why some amount of measured discretion should be imposed upon the teacher evaluation process.

K-12 public education exists to educate children, not to protect and provide lifetime employment to those who work in the field whether or not they perform their duty. No teach has a constitutional right to a job. A student on the other hand does have a constitutional right to an education.

In my own experience my children's teachers have run the gamut. Some have been great, most have been really good, and a small few were uninspiring to downright bad. Teachers who fit into the lowest category stand out and are easily identified by students, other teachers, administrators and parents as do the ones at the top. Poor teachers almost always have a history of failure and are not poor just for one year or another.

It is not a surprise that STAR test results do not get reported by individual class. The unions have vehemently opposed any such correlation between the aggregate class result and corresponding teacher. Part of this opposition I do understand because STAR test results are and should be only one factor in teacher quality. But that is no reason not to report how a class as a whole fares on a relative basis taking into account other demographic factors as is the case for API. They could report a classwide API rather than a simle STAR test average

Anonymous said...

AB,
SOUTH GATE, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Times should remove teacher performance ratings from its website after the apparent suicide of a teacher despondent over his score, which was published in August, the union representing Los Angeles school teachers said.

United Teachers Los Angeles has also asked school administrators to join with them in the request to the newspaper, union president AJ Duffy said.

The body of 39-year-old Rigoberto Ruelas Jr., a fifth-grade teacher at Miramonte Elementary School, was found Sunday at the foot of a remote forest bridge. Investigators believe he jumped to his death, although the inquiry is continuing, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Whitmore said.

The motive for Ruelas taking his own life is far from clear. But union officials said he had been upset since the Times published his district ranking as a "less effective" teacher based on his students' standardized English and math test scores.

Ruelas scored "average" in getting his students up to acceptable levels in English, but "less effective" in math, and "less effective" overall. The school itself ranked as "least effective" in raising test scores, and only five of Miramonte's 35 teachers were ranked as average.

Anonymous said...

The Times' publication of individual rankings for elementary school teachers sparked widespread outrage among teachers. The rankings ranged from least and less effective to average, more effective and most effective.

The union protested in front of the newspaper's downtown headquarters and called for a boycott of the Times, which published the rankings as part of a push for a better method to evaluate teacher effectiveness.

Although other factors may have been at play in Ruelas' death, union official Mathew Taylor said Monday he believed the ranking was a contributing factor based on conversations with teachers at the school. Principals have been using the rankings to crack down on teachers, he said.

"He was a very well-respected teacher," Taylor said. "He took the pressure being applied to him to heart."

Ruelas was last seen Sept. 19 when he dropped off a birthday gift for his sister. He notified the school to get a substitute for his classes Monday and Tuesday, but he did not return to work Wednesday and his family reported him missing.

In a brief statement Sunday, the Times extended its condolences to the family and noted the death is under investigation.

Superintendent Ramon Cortines has said the type of teacher rankings published by the Times, known as "value-added," shouldn't be used as the sole criteria to measure effectiveness.

The school board last month authorized the district to start developing a new method for evaluating teachers that incorporates value-added rankings, as well as in-classroom observation and other measures.

Detractors say value-added rankings place too much emphasis on test-score teaching, especially in schools like Miramonte, a large school in an impoverished, gang-plagued neighborhood about six miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles. About 60 percent of Miramonte students are Spanish-speaking English-language learners.

"Test scores are directly related to the socio-economic status of the student population," said Taylor. "The best teachers are given the toughest kids. This man had won many awards."

By all accounts, Ruelas did not shy away from problem kids.

Parents and former students described him as a mentor to youth tempted to join gangs and a tireless booster that low-income children could make it to college. He often stayed after school to tutor struggling kids and offer counseling so they stayed on the straight and narrow.

"He took the worse students and tried to change their lives," said Ismael Delgado, a 20-year-old former student. "I had friends who wanted to be gangsters, but he talked them out of it. He treated you like family."



Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/09/28/newspaper-teachers-suicide/#ixzz2fbB0ggeY

Anonymous said...

Jeri-Lynn Betts, an early childhood teacher in the Watertown, Wisconsin, school district, died on March 8 of an apparent suicide.

A colleague says she was “very distraught” over Gov. Scott Walker’s attacks on public sector workers and public education.

Betts, 56, was a dedicated teacher who was admired in the Watertown community.


“She was an amazing person,” says the Rev. Terry Larson of the Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church in Watertown, where she was a member. “She really put her heart and soul in her work,” adds Larson, who officiated at her memorial service on March 15.

“She was one of the good guys,” says Karen Stefonek, who used to teach with Betts. “She was very, very dedicated, and worked so well with the little special needs children. She just was very, very good with them, and very well respected in the district.”

In the days after Betts’s death, two members of the school district contacted The Progressive about her death, calling it a suicide and saying it was connected, at least in part, to the policies that Walker has proposed. He has demanded that public workers, including teachers, contribute a significant amount of their salaries to health care and pensions. And in his budget, he proposed taking $900 million out of the public schools, imposing a freeze on property taxes so local governments can’t chip in more for education, and allowing any student, regardless of income, to go to a private school with a taxpayer subsidy.

“She was definitely very distraught about it,” said one of her co-workers, who requested anonymity. “She was feeling a lot of stress about the legislation that was going through.”

“She was concerned about the cuts teachers would have to take,” said another, who also requested anonymity. This co-worker added that Betts’s colleagues acknowledged her anguish about the governor’s policies in their discussions after her death.

Figuring out all the contributing factors behind a likely suicide is a complicated problem. Such deaths are in some ways incomprehensible—and always tragic.

But the report from the Watertown police gives some clues. A police offer took a statement from Susan Kemmerling, who worked with Betts as a special education paraprofessional for the past decade.

Anonymous said...

“Susan advised me that Geri had a long history of depression,” Officer Jeffrey Meloy wrote in his report. “Susan stated that the last several weeks had been ‘stressing her out’ due to the protests and the introduction of the budget repair bill and the uncertainty involved in the teaching world, as far as who was going to have jobs and what services were going to be cut. . . . Susan stated that Jeri truly loved her job and was about the most outgoing and bubbly person you could ever want to be around. Susan stated that everybody had noticed, however, the last few weeks since the introduction of the budget repair bill that Jeri was having a lot of difficulty.” Officer Meloy also interviewed Bonnie Lauersdorf, a physical therapist who worked with Betts for the past 25 year years and had been friends with her “for most of her adult life,” the report says. She told the officer that Jeri was concerned about “the uncertainty of what the budget was going to do to her retirement” and about “cuts to the school districts and possible cuts to the special ed program.” Lauersdorf added that “Jeri felt like she was being ‘forced out,’ ” the report says.

Walker’s policies are placing a heavy strain on teachers, says Steve Cupery, the director of the Lakewood UniServ Council, the teachers’ union in Watertown.


“There’s a lot of stress, especially among older teachers,” he says. “They’re concerned about being targeted. And there’s the stress associated with the potential loss of benefits, which could amount to a substantial cut in pay.”

Cupery adds that teachers are worried about class sizes going up, increased workloads, and not being able to “develop curriculum material around the individual needs of students.”

Walker’s policies have “shredded the morale of teachers,” said Wisconsin State Assemblywoman Sondy Pope-Roberts on March 16. “The cuts to schools districts are going to be drastic.”

Pat Theder, Jefferson County coroner, looked into Betts’s death. “Our investigation is still pending,” he says. “We’re waiting for a toxicology report. She may have ingested something. We’re doing toxicology to determine if she took over the therapeutic amount of her medication and whether that was enough to kill her.”

Betts’s old colleague Karen Stefonek remembers her as “fun loving” and as someone who “loved to travel.”

Her death “took a lot out of us,” Stefonek says. “It hit us in the heart.”

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story "Nader Urges Biden to Go to Wisconsin to Support Workers."

Anonymous said...

I read these again and cried and cried and cried. You evil doers are responsible for these horrific suicides! We should all work as a team, we should unify. Your emotions are evil and disgusting!

Don Krause said...

Yes , we should all work as a team to make sure that incompetent teachers are not allowed into the classrooms. We should work to protect children not adults. We should work as team to provide students the opportunity to learn and if I that means firing incompetent teachers than so be it. I have more sympathy for the student who wants to fulfill his or her potential than for the incompetent teacher who might commit suicide because he or she has no other option than to ruin the education of their students or kill themselves.

Anonymous said...

to 11:11-

We want better teachers and for that you call us murderers, rapist, terrorists and disgusting? Only one person on this blog has been disgusting. Can You guess who I'm talking about?

You claim you have the upper hand and that the voices of moderation have been silenced. You are wrong about that. Our voices are growing and your supporters are crumbling. You will have to change or change will sweep you away.

Anonymous said...

If this is so, why did Arnold's 2006 proposition fail? Why did Omar lose, Christina Miller drop out, Prop H lose, why is tenure still strong and why was it used exclusively in the last set of lay offs? No one is buying what you are selling. You are going to the courts because the majority will never vote for a law which villainizes teachers. We will run ads about the suicides and the history of labor and about how you are blaming teachers for a complex problem, and we will have far more money, we will have people like James Edwards Olmos and good actors in our ads. We won in 2006 this way. But you want to sneak around us in the courts, we will appeal and appeal and appeal and eventually win. The court system is set up in a way that if you have money you can always appeal again, and we all donate to the cause every paycheck, billions of dollars, and we will spend what we have to.

We know about your little cafe meeting, emails have been forwarded to us. We will boycott that cafe and they probably will fear being on a list in the Bay Guardian and will ask you to leave. Even if not, we will picket your event. We will not stand by silently. We will fight for equality, fairness, acceptance of all and for California's children. We don't think it's good for children to see people forced to slave or be fired. We don't want principals to have the same abusive power as the 1%.

We hear about how income inequality is due to education, but since 2009, 60% of the income gains have gone to the top 0.1% and 95% to the top 1%. This is what you want to do to education, force us to dumb down education to the test and serve up docile, obedient, tired souls who will be your slaves. No thank you! Your cafe will not be in business in 6 months. Your meeting won't get off the ground.

Don Krause said...

Every state except California and Iowa have signed on to Obama's push to strengthen teacher evaluations and force out the low performing ones. The President does not support the outdated practices of your unions. Even SFUSD got an independent waiver exclusive of the State. When a district like this wants to get a waiver to avoid the stringent and overzealous protections of teachers, you know you have problems.

I'm sure you voted for Obama. Now that he wants to remove incompetents like yourself (that's obvious because you clearly demonstrate an inability to employ rational thought) from the classroom, are you regretting your choice?

The legislators who support your viewpoint are ones who are bought and paid for by teacher unions and they even vote against toughening standards to prevent child molesters from working the classrooms. These are the people you support. You are an accomplice in their crimes.

As for Chris Miller she was involved in a neighborhood schools measure that had zero to do with seniority, tenure, evaluations, etc. There was no mention or even the slightest inkling of any of the above issues in that measure. Separate issue, but that doesn't matter for you. You see everything as a sort of Gothic struggle between the forces of light and the forces of darkness.

The great majority of people in this state support more robust evaluations and a more efficient removal process and that includes the majority of teaching professionals. They don't like being treated as you would have them treated - like widgets, each as good as the next, no better, no worse.

As for the "meeting" each attendee simply makes a signed statement to vouch for their experiences with better and worse teachers. These are to be used to support the nine plaintiffs in the case.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry, your meeting will never happen, and we only want accused molesters to have due process, what's wrong with that? There should be proof and a process followed. What if an innocent is accused because they cost more than a young teacher who will work for peanuts? What if the principal gets a friend to lie? We vote on everything if most teachers supported this nonsense the union would. It is not outdated. It will last forever. Even Obama cannot stop it. He's wrong on this issue! He is villainizing teachers! Chris Miller went on You-Tube and insulted and villainized teachers! It was sent to all of us. We know about her mode of thinking, and yours, blame teachers, you need a scapegoat and we are it. How convenient.

Don Krause said...

Look, please don't copy and paste all your comments. Making references is fine. But this not just a bulletin board to reprint all your favorite writers. You put up one comment after another that you didn't write. You can express your point of view, but you're clogging up the board with tons of copied text. Do some original thinking that doesn't include calling everyone who disagrees with you every name under the sun.

Anonymous said...

Ab challenged the fact that teachers are being unfairly humiliated into suicide and I proved it.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't we find a way as a society to do psychological tests to find out which teachers are really suicidal and give them an office job or make work at the same pay? I feel bad about the suicides but don't want bad teachers hurting kids. I guess I'm in the reasonable middle.

Anonymous said...

Yeah but I don't want this waste of money coming from the budget maybe it could be paid for by a surtax on the rich. It will help kids and they don't need the money. I mean real rich.

Anonymous said...

If anyone is fired for poor performance, they don't deserve another job at taxpayer expense. Even if it comes from the real rich, great, but it could go towards better things than a make work job.

Don Krause said...

Blogger Don Krause said...
Suicide has nothing to do with the issue of the constitutionality of the five statutes. People from all walks of life commit suicide. If we followed this ridiculous logic to its conclusion then no one should ever get fired, period.

I'm tired of focusing on this point about suicide. The guest made her point many times and I have given her maximum leeway to express herself. Now that is done, Any more on this subject of teacher suicide will be deleted as off-topic, which it is because there is no greater incidence of suicide among teachers as there is in the general population. Don't let the lowest common denominator run the conversation into the ground.

Besides, why not ask why students and young adults take their lives, or more to the point, why such large numbers resort to drugs out of lack of opportunity due to a poor education? We need to improve the prospects of our young people. Teachers are college-educated people who have prospects. This whole court case is about increasing the prospect for the students. We allocate about 40% of the entire California state budget so we can educate them. We don't do it as a job program. That is to say why shouldn't do it as a job program even though we do at present.

We need to honor the hard work of teachers by paying them more when they do well just as others in the private sector get promoted when they do well ( more or less) But that also includes removing those that don't perform. This is a no brainer. The real issue isn't whether bad teachers should be fired. The real issue is how to create a fair system to identify those teachers so that firing teachers is not a discretionary decision. There is legitimate concerns that firing could be done for all sorts of reason other than performance.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Just focusing on one thing is silly, how many people have comitted suicide because they couldn't do well in life because they had a bad teacher, or homicide because they took risks and couldn't get a good job? You can't just focus on one and ignore the others. Improving education for all should decrease early death for all, whether it's from suicide, homicide, drug overdoses, car accidents due to alcoholism, etc. Also, if we make more money, we have more tax dollars, pay for more police, more prisons for the bad, the prisoners reproduce less as they're in prison, good people reproduce proportionately more, fewer people become bad people, and the next generation is better. A bigger problem is getting successful people to have more kids and educating kids of the unsuccessful so we break the cycle, or imprisoning them long enough so that they don't reproduce. If we focus on educating away the crime factor and towards good jobs, society will be better in the future. You can't just obsess over two suicides, it's anecdotal.

Anonymous said...

spoken like true 6th grader

Anonymous said...

The presented articles state two teachers committed suicide and that the official cause of death was not determined. Your speculative hypothesis remains unproven.

AB said...

From my read of the lawsuit and proposed changes no-one will be able to fire a teacher without cause and due process, it only changes the process to be more reasonable. Good teachers will not be arbitrarily fired.

this pig-headed union stubbornness to protect 'bad apple' teachers at the expense of student improvement reminds me of the MUNI work-rules fight where the union fights to protect its 'bad apple' drivers who abuse work rules that caused MUNI to suffer a 15% driver absentee rate resulting in huge budget overruns, missed runs, and horrible customer service.

By vigorously protecting those that damage your profession from within you damage your own reputation and that of all of your colleagues.

Anonymous said...

Unions exist to protect the consumer - the students. We are their conduits to success. Keep us employed and they will be employed.

AB said...

Really? Please do tell how, other than 'Consumers Union' unions protect consumers. I thought unions mission was to protect workers?

AB said...

Protect the students from whom? certainly not bad teachers - thus the need for this lawsuit.

Anonymous said...

Unions are not there to protect the students. This is the nonsense that unions feed the public. If they were there to protect students they would self-police.

You cannot seriously ask us to believe this. You want no teacher ever to be fired and you also want to tell us teachers are there to protect students? What a load!

Anonymous said...

Teacher's should be held to high standards due to the high responsibility of the job, shaping the future of each student. Of course we really don't pay our quality teachers well enough. If you want better teachers you'll have to pay us more. We deserve to be paid a fair wage.

Anonymous said...

If a bus driver makes $100K/year a teacher should get at least 150. If we have to be held to standards PAY US ACCORDLINGLY.

Anonymous said...

The union is it's own worst enemy. In SF, they unionize all the administrators and janitors, and overpay them. Then the money is gone towards that and our teahers make less, 48.4% of police pay vs. 73.3 in San Diego. Money sucked into one thing isn't there for another. Also, the substitute costs crowd out raises.

Anonymous said...

We are abusively underpaid! Most of us have to have second and third jobs to make ends meet in this area. We easily deserve $150k each for all we do and would deserve 200k to do it full time without another job. Since we get more like 60k and have to have other jobs, we have to do email and phone calls during our breaks, or take naps, and we absolutely in order to pay rent need to take off every day available to us in our contract to work our second job to pay the ridiculous rents here! If you want us to be held to higher standards pay us fairly! We don't have summer off, we work all summer, we work during breaks, after school, on weekends, because we are paid slave wages to educate your children. At least snotty parents could pay us tips like they do waiters, oh wait, they're men, they have families to support so they deserve it right, we're just housewives with a hobby according to you! Then we could tutor all afternoon. Here's a news flash, because you cheap taxpayers and ruling class decide to abuse us with horrifically low pay you wouldn't want to live on, in return we get an ironclad guarantee against being ever fired, it's part of the trade off. You hooligans should be ashamed of yourselves! Stop blaming teachers. Blame the fact that we are paid abusively.

Anonymous said...

This is better than Comedy Central.

Don Krause said...

I don't think you should have to work at all. It's a waste of everybody's time. You don't have to teach kids anything to stay on the job. You already work less than half the days in year and probably a lot less in your case. And you are grossly underpaid. So there's really not much percentage in your coming to work for what's left, especially since we owe you for being enslaved even before you were born by people who died before you were born. Really the kids would be a lot better off learning online and it would probably be cheaper since we wouldn't have to pay the janitors who make more than you do and deservedly.

AB said...

I am going to have to get business cards made with all the various labels that you (the anonymous poster(s) spewing vitriolic union nonsense) are throwing out in your posts. Maybe you should consider teaching creative writing...

As a parent I want the best teachers for my child. As a citizen I want the best teachers for all children. Teaching is a noble profession, I believe that teachers deserve respect, but that respect must also be earned. The question of 'just compensation' is separate from the need to terminate unfit teachers - which is the topic of this thread. As a taxpayer I welcome the discussion of incentive pay or bonuses for teachers - but this would require teacher evaluations - which, I guess, ties it back to this thread.

Kinda makes you think: attract more high caliber teachers + get rid of the few non/underperforming teachers = better educational experience and academic results. And all you need is the ability to evaluate/rate teacher performance.

Anonymous said...

NOT BONUS OR INCENTIVE PAY! That id degrading. It's like tips, did you ever read in the Spanish revolution before evil Franco took over tips were banned. We have a RIGHT to a living wage, we don't need to fawn to some evil power-mad principal or ruling class. We have a right to a living wage, and in the Bay Area that's at least 150k! We don't deserve the stress of being fired. No matter how many days we work our work follows us everywhere! We care. We are human! You are a robot slaving yourself to the man. You are scum! You are blaming and abusing teachers! The union rigidly opposes any form of bonuses. If you have the money we deserve raises ACROSS THE BOARD! Every teacher deserves a raise to be unified, not fight each other for crumbs. Scumbag!

Anonymous said...

AB you seem unhealthily obsessed with test scores. You probably admire idiotic tiger parents. What about seeing the whole person? What about embraching children's humanity and mentoring them as a human being, not just a future employee? What about that?

Anonymous said...

AB, who in the hell are you to judge good vs. bad in teaching? There are no bad teachers. They wouldn't have gotten tenure. Some have issues, challenges, and need our support, some are in poverty, on food stamps due to the low pay, suffering, barely able to pay rent, holding many jobs. But we need to end this myth that a certain percentage of teachers are bad. They are just different, they don't have your tiger priorities. They look at the soul. You are very closed-minded.

Anonymous said...

It's not one person judging. It's the system that needs to change. Seniority is a horrible way to judge the quality of performance.

Don Krause said...

I guess evaluation is a dirty word for teachers of her ilk.

There' s decent likelihood of a win for Vergara Vs. California. In that event we will see many underperforming teachers leaving the profession either with early retirement or removal. The implications of this case may extend beyond the teaching profession.

As a teacher myself, I welcome thiis change that's years overdue.

Anonymous said...

You're no teacher Don. You're a right wing demagogue, proably part of the 1% getting his kicks humiliating poor teachers. Who are you to say I am "underperforming"? And why am I supposed to perform for you like a trained seal? We're here to reach children, not for your amusement.

AB said...

Looks like I hit a nerve - I must be getting ever closer to the truths that you fear the most....

I choose to discuss the issues, voice my opinion, share my perspective. You choose repeated name calling and hateful put-down of those who do not share your narrow dogmatic viewpoint. I find that sad.

For the record - I would not be the one evaluating the teachers, I am smart enough to know to defer to someone more qualified to do so.

you know nothing of my educational upbringing and philosophy - so your assertions about my interests are laughable. I am all for nurturing the entire child and giving them a comprehensive world view. I do not view testing as an end-all determinant of success or the value of the child - but basic competence testing in core subjects such as Math and English are necessary to identify students who need help mastering basic life skills. If a child fails to achieve the appropriate level of competence in Math and English they will struggle to make sense of the world around them, they are more likely to make poor financial decisions, lack critical thinking skills, not understand contracts or ballot measures, need I go on?

Don Krause said...

I'm no right wing demagogue and I'm certainly no left wing demagogue. I'm kind of in the middle. I'm not sure what you are because many left wing extremists make you look like a fanatic. I just find you amusing in an unpleasant way. But also a waste of time.

Anonymous said...

You will see. This case is going down in smoke and we will overcome. Our work with children means having to undo the damage parents wreak upon them. How to make them whole again and how to be confident, not little worker bees. Bad teaching is forcing worthless information into the brains of unsuspecting and innocent children. We have better things to do in the classroom. We are united!

Anonymous said...

Agreed. We need to teach children to be confident and that they are beautiful and wonderful people regardless of a test score the state imposes on them. We should raise minimum wage significantly so there isn't so much stress on all kids fighting for the few jobs that pay a living wage. Children need to feel valued and appreciated and loved even if they don't do well on a racist, sexist test, and need to be whole. Your test is despicable. It shouldn't even exist. It harms children's psyches. Not everyone needs to be a carbon copy of everyone else. We must embrace children and their humanity. If you can write an essay, great, but include your feelings and I don't rate one essay as better than another. If one kid feels uncomfortable writing an essay they can submit a drawing about how the issue makes them feel. This doesn't show up on your test but is much better for a childn's feeling of inclusion and self-esteem. I make all my students feel safe and wonderful and valued. I don't obsess over test scores to turn them into good little worker bees.

Anonymous said...

And you're so right about the parents, especially the Chinese parents, the psychological damage and snobbery we have to unteach is sad. They start feeling superior, kids in the projects start feeling superior to other non-Chinese kids in the projects because they are obsessing over and rate higher on the rich white man's test score. We have so much work to do. Now some other parents are emulating these Chinese parents who raise kids who are totally snobbish and narrow and not in touch with their feelings at all. It's truly scary. There are hardly any parents who don't wreak damage upon their children anymore.

Don Krause said...

You know, it isn't easy striking a balance between running a blog with useful information and dialogue and allowing a wide opportunity for expression. I do not want to say which views should be allowed and which shouldn't. But I would really appreciate it if comments stay in the realm of what is generally considered a respectful interchange of ideas. I, too have gotten angry and violated my own rules of toleration and civility.

So, if you see a comment is gone, it won't have been deleted for ideological reasons. I will delete any comments that are personal attacks, accusations, insults, etc.

Regarding the last two comments why are they attacking Chinese people as if they are all the same? Ya, there are some Tiger Moms in all races, but since when did respect for education become a liability? Some people and some cultures have more or it, but your attack on the Chinese is racist. And by the way, when it comes to the "white man's tests", the Chinese in China out do us by far.

When it comes to rating essays one commenter says she doesn't rate one better than the other. That explains a lot about the comments on this blog. So if one person can make a persuasive case, provide examples, employ critical thinking and analysis and draw a creative and thoughtful conclusion that is only equal to someone who can barely write and has little to commend? Who should get the job of editor, your qualified candidate or your illiterate? Is this really the way you teach in your class? And if each is just as good as the other, why are you criticizing the viewpoints of some on this blog. You certainly don't practice what you preach. Anything is just as good as everything else.

Now... her are some real questions: Let's say Vergara is upheld after appeal and all the union contracts have to be rewritten, what would be an appropriate number of years required to attain tenure? How often should a teacher be evaluated? What metrics should be employed in those evaluations? Should peer review be included? And should credentialing institutions be held to higher standards as well?

Reading the comments on this blog provides some insight into the challenges ahead.

Anonymous said...

If Vergara wins, it goes to the counties. San Francisco will never go by what you want. Everyone on the board respects the union.

All children have beauty, they don't need to be judged one better than another. Some can't write because their parents have abused them, not their fault. Children need to express themselves in a way which feels good to them. We need to trust the children.

As for what we should do, exactly what we're doing now. Once a teacher has tenure, seniority should determine all pay, layoffs, promotions, transfers and everything else should be based on seniority. We don't deserve to be judged and children don't deserve to be judged. Society needs to work together to solve it's problems. This obsession with competition is sick, sports, grades, merit pay, the 1%, SAT Scores, it just makes me sick. No teacher should be evaluated. Maybe some right wing counties will abuse teachers but San Francisco will do exactly what it does now. Seniority, seniority, seniority. That's it! We won't turn on each other with peer evaluations. Seniority. LIFO forever! This law suit can't change it unless the school board agrees and they never will! Our union decides who gets on the school board. Matt Haney, all of them!

Anonymous said...

LIFO is fair because every teacher knows when they sign up that that is the system. To change it now would be unfair. You can never undo it because you will be lying to many who believed in it. You know it going in, then you live with it, and eventually you get your years in and it's OK. Last In, First Out, forever, nothing is more sacrosanct! It will never change!

Don Krause said...

What do you mean "If Vergara wins, it goes to the counties."?

This case challenges the California Constitution. If it wins the counties no longer have to abide by the struck down statutes. SFUSD has already signed onto the waiver. SFUSD may be left wing, but it will start firing the teachers who have been a thorn in their side. All the district will. It is a matter of economics. If they can dump the excess baggage that's weighing them down and get new blood (for lower cost) they will do it in a heartbeat. You are living in dreamland. You may have to start packing.

Anonymous said...

SFUSD will never fire a soul and if they do, whoever voted for it on the board, we will send thousands of union members to pass out fliers door to door for their opponents. We will find something wrong with them, everyone has something, we will destroy them. They will be sorry they ever ran let alone served. We decide who sits on the board, the voters think they do but have we ever lost? Whoever we want on the board gets on! The incumbents always win. No one on the board now opposes LIFO and no one ever will. You are living in a dreamland if you think for one minute anyone on the board will ever vote to fire a single one of us. It will go to the districts, not the counties. LIFO forever! We are unified. We have the money, we have the soldiers, we have the power! Not a single one of us will be fired without the due process you list above and it will probably even become harder soon. We will soon be entitled to an additional appeal! You are wasting your time and I laugh at you! I laugh at all of you people.

Anonymous said...

You couldn't be more wrong, Obama is a liberal Democrat and is fully supportive of this. The days of LIFO are numbered. You tried to sack the incumbents last election and didn't, you only got Haney into the one open spot.

Anonymous said...

The district won't have much choice but to let people go and it will be glad to do so. Federal funding is now tied to teacher evaluations. If the vergara case wins it will make that much easier.

4:02 you're a disgrace to intelligent life forms.

Don Krause said...

I asked earlier today not to be insulting, so I'll ask again. Please don't be insulting.

I am totally convinced that the majority of teachers are no where near as extreme as some of the other teachers who are posting here. Don't fall prey to the trap that all teachers are like that. While many would welcome a stronger evaluation paradigm, I'm sure many would be also be happy to leave things just the way they are, although I think many of those, when push comes to shove, would understand that their profession requires monitoring in the public interest and, in particular, the students' interests.

Anonymous said...

I really don't get this quote:

"You will see. This case is going down in smoke and we will overcome. Our work with children means having to undo the damage parents wreak upon them. How to make them whole again and how to be confident, not little worker bees. Bad teaching is forcing worthless information into the brains of unsuspecting and innocent children. We have better things to do in the classroom. We are united!"

You will overcome what? The idea you have to be held to a standard and that test scores are important? I know people dream of being a genius entrepreneur, but most of us are going to be worker bees, we're going to have to work 40 or more hours a week for many years for a company in a non-ideal position. Some of us will have a dream job; most won't, but we'll make more money and have a more interesting job if we have an education which is solid. If you are so disdainful of parents, why do you criticize parents who focus the most on education, you are constantly complaining about the parents who do help with their kids' education in the best way they know how, taking them to the library, reading, supplementing. Studies have shown, the better grades you get, the happier and more confident you are. You seem to really not believe in your job, in the idea of education, so why did you become a teacher? To teach kids not to strive? How is the information worthless? Paul Tough's books have proven that yes, maybe you won't use the dates and facts in history or science or algebra, but the character you learn in striving for an A and memorizing and learning to write a paper will make you a better employee which is why those with degrees earn over 80% more than those with just a diploma, those who drop out are in hopeless poverty, and UC Graduates earn 18% more than State graduates, on average. Finally, you are united against what, or for what? To protect the worst among you from consequences? To maintain a system that has us ranked 25th internationally though our business culture is near the top and we rely on immigrants to keep our companies going?

Every time I read this I get more depressed. Why did you enter teaching in the first place? Is your goal to raise rebellious unemployed anarchist hippies? You don't want to teach kids to work hard (worker bees), are united against anyone ever being fired despite studies showing eliminating the bottom 10% could improve our education tremendously, you're united against anyone who wants to change this oh so wonderful status quo, and you think what you teach the kids is useless? What about the character it teaches the one who works late at night and all weekend to push for an A vs. a kid who just does the minimum, or less?

What is the purpose of your life, then? Society taxes productive enterprise to have education build a workforce, it doesn't work any other way. If money is coming out to hurt the productive enterprise, not sustain and help it, the whole thing falls apart.

Don Krause said...

I removed three comments from the teacher lady. You may have already seen them before I removed them. They were completely off the charts and that's saying a lot coming from her- really lewd and revolting hate-filled stuff. Like I said before, let's focus on a meaningful dialogue.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Let's get back to ruining peoples' lives by firing them knowing they'll never get another job and may commit suicide because they don't bow down to corporate slavemasters and turn kids into obedient worker bees who are too afraid to challenge their own exploitation and obsess over their test scores like their humanity and personal interests have no meaning. Great idea! That's so much better. What a noble thread you've started.

Anonymous said...

What about the children's lives you ruin? Why are you so disrespectful towards parents? You seem more mad at parents who help their kids thrive than those who abandon their kids in record numbers and think it's cool.

Anonymous said...

That's the part I can't understand, don't good parents of all races make parents' lives easier? When you go on at length about kids in dangerous areas, who are you blaming for that? There are kids in these areas who study hard and many well off kids just watch TV. If you look at why kids are failing, a huge percentage is not because they're afraid and cowering, it's fun but fun in the wrong way, watching TV, hanging out talking, excessive sports, listening to music, playing video games. Why is it impossible to read a science text when you live in a dangerous neighborhood but fine to play video games? On San Bruno Avenue, you see Asians in the library. You see African Americans and Latinos everywhere else, not too scared to study or read, just choosing not to.

Obama said, you're never so poor the only decision you can make is to watch TV or play video games with your time.

He's 100% right.

Children need to study 3-4 hours a day, or read novels. TV and games is a huge mistake.

These anti-Asian hippy ideas you seem to have about do what you want are part of the problem. You remind me of teachers who discouraged me from getting my kids to work hard to get into Lowell. This is why the mostly Asian schools in fairly affluent suburbs like Fremont Mission and Cupertino are beating the mostly white schools in Marin, LaMOrinda, Woodside and other suburbs, in test scores. Your advice is off the charts bad. I work hard with my kids, they know the alphabet by 2, know a lot of words by 3, reading at 4, finishing bookd by 5, reading intensively, doing math quizzes, star test prep books, logic, history, they have a study routine for the Summer, etc. I help you and my kids score in the top 3% of the STAR test every year.

You make it seem like I'm part of the problem. If every parent did what I did we wouldn't have these problems in society.

Anonymous said...

Did you see Carranza's Op Ed in yesterday's Chronicle? Ha ha ha! He's putting in new laws to make it MORE DIFFICULT to fire a teacher, ever! Additional safeguards and processes are being implemented. He's fighting a law to make it simpler. Face it, LIFO forever, when you hire a teacher, you have to work with them, not against them. We'll never have the mean and brutal practices of the private sector!

Don Krause said...

The Week's Top Story: LAUSD and Alum Rock Dropped from Vergara v. California


Last week, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and the Alum Rock Union Elementary School District were dropped as defendants in the Students Matter lawsuit Vergara v. California. Vergara attorney Josh Lipshutz explained that LAUSD was dropped because “like all other school districts in California, LAUSD is hindered by rigid and outdated state laws that harm students. We believe the trial should be focused on the actors who are chiefly responsible for devising, promoting, enacting, and maintaining those laws — namely, the state of California and the teachers’ unions.” LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy has been a vocal supporter of the goals of Vergara v. California, arguing that California’s teacher retention and dismissal laws make it exceedingly difficult to staff high-needs schools with effective teachers every day. Dave Holmquist, LAUSD’s General Counsel, issued a press release last week arguing that the state’s “cumbersome and costly dismissal process” delayed the dismissal of Armando Gonzalez who has been accused of sexually abusing three children from 2008 to 2010.

Students Matter will continue to pursue a case against Governor Jerry Brown, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson, the California Department of Education (CDE), the California Teachers Association (CTA) and the California Federation of Teachers (CFT). Neither the CTA nor the CFT were originally defendants in the suit but were permitted to join in May after requesting to do so. A spokeswoman for the CTA said that if the nine California public school students who are represented in the suit are successful in striking down these laws, teachers would be stripped of their due-process rights. In fact, teachers would retain the same due-process rights already guaranteed to every public employee in the state of California.

Don Krause said...

All this cheerleading is really childish. Go team go. The case may win or it may lose and all your insistence that there is only one possible outcome is just so much nonsense. What Carranza thinks is immaterial. He may talk up a good line about his support for LIFO, but if and when the laws crumble he will have little leeway in the matter because the school district will begin to get expensive lawsuits when incompetent teacher violate the civil rights of students.

Now... back to your RA RA RA Go Team LIFO Forever BS

Anonymous said...

Dropping LAUSD from the suit is a huge loss for you and your kind. You are losing. You can try to put a positive spin on it, but taking out Alum Rock and LAUSD was a huge loss for you. Now you're suing the union. We have tons of money and are unified and will fight you. Carranza will use Dennis Herrera to defend the lawsuits. Dennis Herrera understands oppression and racism. He is a true progressive and will fight the lawsuit as he is fighting the closure of City College. They're threatening City College with closure and the union and the college haven't backed down one iota and Dennis Herrera is suing them back. City College hasn't fired a soul. It is unified, and it is fighting, as will we, to the end. Carranza will be out of a job in a New York minute if he fires teachers, lawsuit or no lawsuit. You are losing!

Anonymous said...

Don face it this news is extremely humiliating for you personally!

Don Krause said...

Don't you understand anything? They are no longer named because LAUSD is on the side of the plaintiffs. The more districts leave the suit the more they already concede the merits. Deasy is a witness for the plaintiffs. Good God, are you really that dense? The suits challenges the statute, meaning the State of California.

The only thing humiliating to me is knowing that a person of your caliber would be allowed by this society to be a teacher of children. Sorry to say it. Now, if you insist on continuing to be personal I will just delete your comments, though I am wont to do that.

Anonymous said...

So, Don, with LAUSD out, don't you think they are much more inclined to start firing teachers should the case prevail? They are out because they concur with the plaintiffs and aren't trying to defend LIFO, etc. They want this to succeed so they can start letting more teachers go.

Don Krause said...

If the statutes are struck down, the protections will have to be removed from the teacher contracts. Of course individual district can rewrite the contracts to be pro-teacher, but districts would be taking on a lot of liability. Right now, they have the law to protect them. Without it, parents or interest groups could sue district for civil rights violations.

Anonymous said...

You can't sue for bad teaching. If you could, we'd all be millionaires. It can become an election issue, but my fear is that the "United Educators" basically control everyone who gets on the board like a puppet. You should hear Sam Rodriguez talk, probably the next "new" board member. His web site is all about reform, change, but when you talk to him, he talks in this support our educators Orwellian double-speak they all use, hugs every union member, throws softball questions at them. Haney is the same. Murase, Norton. They want to improve education for the poor without changing a single thing, which is why the achievement gap will persist and many students of all races will suffer bad teachers. They are all beholden to Ken Tray and won't challenge him. The only way it can work is to organize a group which will consistently fight back, but many parents get into it for a few years, then can't be bothered after their kids get older. We need a movement of people willing to make this a priority and follow through. These are the facts, and they are undisputed.

Don Krause said...

They aren't the facts. They are disputed in Vergara Vs. California. In fact you CAN sue for bad teaching. The whole case is predicated on the idea that there are bad teachers who can't be removed and therefore the civil rights of student are being violated. There have been many studies that prove how teacher quality affects student outcome.

What's with that tag line you like to throw onto the end of your comments - "these are the facts, they are undisputed"? Can you give us a break? That's just a lame way of trying to get in the last word.

Anonymous said...

'A few good men.' I apologize. I'm just wary, I hope it works. I'd like to see some independent thoughtfulness on our school board, not so much mindless status quo. We need to be more organized.

Don Krause said...

"You can't handle the truth"

And the rubber room lady sings.....

Anonymous said...

You can call me the rubber room lady all you want Mister but I am enjoying my breakfast in the surety that no teacher in San Francisco or California will ever be fired without due process, and very few ever will period. We have a right to our job, to not be afraid to take the days off allowed us, earned in contract negoatiations, and to be able to reach students how we choose, not how some bureaucrats or corrupt congresspeople owned by CEOs choose in Washington or Sacramento. We have a right to improve as we wish, not according to some testing dictates. We have freedom, and security. We will stay unified. And we will win. We will have sweet victory in January. We will do whatever it takes. There will never be rubber rooms in California. That is disgusting what New York did and that movie was misleading. It was slander.

Anonymous said...

We shall overcome, we shall overcome,
We shall overcome someday.
Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe,
We shall overcome someday.
The truth will make us free, the truth will make us free,
The truth will make us free someday,

Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe,
We shall overcome someday.
We’ll walk hand in hand, we’ll walk hand in hand,
We’ll walk hand in hand someday.
Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe,
We shall overcome someday.
We are not afraid, we are not afraid,

We are not afraid today.
Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe,
We shall overcome someday.
The truth will make us free, the truth will make us free,
The truth will make us free someday,
Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe,
We shall overcome someday.
We shall overcome, we shall overcome,
We shall overcome someday.
Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe,
We shall overcome someday.

Don Krause said...

So I guess pretty much everyone else is corrupt except those in the teaching profession. No wonder they call it the "noble profession. And I thought it was because of the low wages.

If you had actually read the articles you would know that due process is not at issue here. In no way will this decision affect that Constitutional right. You have no absolute right to a job as you claim. If I'm wrong please indicate where the laws of this land say you have a right to a job. If a person has a right to a job, that means, by definition, they have a right to keep a job whether they can do that job or not. And that is the crux of this litigation. Your position is that all teachers are qualified , all teachers are competent and all teachers are successful. I don't know of any organization left or right-leaning that makes a claim od such outrageous pretense .


I guess it is asking too much of you to express ideas based on supporting facts. Your thinking is always ideologically based. This leads you to very uninformed decisions.

Anonymous said...

Don, the current system makes it virtually impossible to fire any teacher and allows us to teach as we feel is right, take the days off we earn in contract negotiations, work a normal work schedule and not be pressured to stay late, and have freedom of speech secure in the knowledge we will always have a job and be able to be a teacher until we choose to retire, even if we choose to teach into our eighties as some of us do. My position is that I don't want that to change. I think there are better ways to reform education than taking away our security, humiliating us, ruining our finances and lives and pressuring some of us, in extreme cases, into suicide, essentially a death sentence for someone claiming we are the ever elusive "bad teacher". No bad teachers exist, I believe all teachers are good in their own way. They may not all sing to the same tune and some are too corporate and test-minded in my view, but some deal with psychological issues, with the whole person, with the humanity. We can advise, mentor, work together. We should provide much higher pay across the board to reduce our stress so we don't often need 2d jobs to avoid homelessness. We need peer support groups, free psychological services, advice groups, payment for school supplies, more dinners and luncheons honoring us, and parents and teachers to work together to help all students. All parents should volunteer 5-10 hours a week minimum to add love and help. We should unify and work together.

This whole firing idea/obsession of yours pits us against each other. It is not an example of a community working in unison. We seek no change to the status quo except more pay, more benefits, and more support from the community and parents. This is not uninformed. This will lead to a better society and a more just and equal one. I don't think anyone should have to fear some power hungry jerk firing them, but that's just me, you probably think that's crazy. We all deserve security. Don, have you ever been fired? You say it so nonchalantly. Do you realize how painful it can be?

Anonymous said...

Don, when you see one of these teachers you decide is "bad", do you ever try to understand them? Do you ever give them a hug? Do you ever tell them you care? Do you ever offer to buy them tea and talk to them about what's bothering them? Do you ever ask if they are having trouble making ends meet, ask if you can buy them something? Do you ever ask them about their feelings? Do you ever tell them how much you appreciate their sacrifice? Do you ever ask what their childhood is like, or what stress they may be facing, if maybe their husband left them or cheated on them, stole their money, if they're having to hold an extra side job to make ends meet, if they have medical issues, if they had childhood trauma or are a Vietnam Vet, or if they suffer from learning disabilities? Do you ever take your time and try to find free or inexpensive support systems to help them? Do you ever say, I see you're struggling, let's embrace this as a community, what can I do, and then just not talk, but listen, just listen, to whatever they have to say?

Anonymous said...

You see you have to show you care in this situation, not just attack them like a bull in a China shop.

Don Krause said...

So you say all teachers are good? Hmmm. You also say there are lots of bad actors out there, i.e, poor principals, corrupt politicians, greedy businesspeople, callous parents... and on and on. (see your previous comments) Evil-doers all, no doubt.

But teachers, they are all universally good, competent, effective. There's not a bad one in the bunch. Not one. Those are incredible odds considering how rotten so many others are, and we haven't even touch on the conundrum of those teachers who are also parents, principals, and businesspeople. I wonder what happens when you get that magical teaching credential? I guess its like the scarecrow's brain. You just have to believe. That's like believing everybody whose ever had a driver's license is guaranteed to drive for life, no matter they repeatedly get drunk and commit vehicular manslaughter. You get a credential, you're set because it is almost impossible to not get tenure and then it is impossible to get fired.

The State of California and the teachers unions may win this case or they may lose. But the tide is turning. There was a time not too long ago when they was no reform on the horizon. Lousy schools were acceptable. Now that's all changed. The walls of the old establishment are coming down. The students with the help of reform advocates are now getting the attention they deserve.

Recite all the poems you like.I'm glad you're writing in so we can be reminded what we're up against, though, granted, most teachers would not agree with your monolithic world view. I surely don't.

I know Pete Seeger didn't write it, but you don't want to put in his grave before his time.

Don Krause said...

As for appreciating their sacrifice... That's a good point.

I appreciate the sacrifice of those who have given their lives to defend this country.

I think teachers who are great at what they do deserve the respect of this society and that should be not simply represented in words but in better pay. Not better pay for anyone who is employed, but for those who excel, just like in any profession.

You make it out like teaching is the singular profession that should be recognized with greater rights, wages and benefits over all others.

AB said...

Many families struggle to make ends meet, deal with medical and family issues, etc.

My child's teacher (an SFUSD recognized and honored teacher of the month) brings it every day. She is appreciative of the few families that do volunteer in the classroom or otherwise support the class (wishes it was more). She is frustrated with the shortcomings of the District (lack of resources and support), and deals, on a daily basis, with many of the issues our anon 'teacher' describes. She clearly has the kids best interests at heart and has found creative ways to provide an encouraging and supportive learning environment in the classroom - delivering consistent academic advancement across the grade, extra support to those who need it, discipline when necessary, a hug when needed. She exemplifies what I want in a teacher.

I do not expect all teachers to be as 'good' as my daughter's current teacher, but I do expect a basic level of competence. I'm not judging the individual as a human, only their ability to teach. if they cannot be brought up to standard they should be let go, the same as a bus driver who cannot safely drive a bus, or a nurse who cannot safely administer care.

AB said...

The lawsuit provides supporting evidence of a modified Pareto Principle at work - the outsize negative impact of the few bad teachers.

Until our grade level competence in basic Math and English exceeds 90% across the District we are in crisis. This acceptance (celebration?) of mediocrity must stop.

Vergara vs California provides an important element of the solution.

Anonymous said...

You people always have something to complain about. First it's the Native Americans, then you kill off most and put a few on reservations, then it's the Germans. Then it's the Jews. Then it's the communists. Then it's the intellectuals. Then it's the hippies. Then it's the blacks. Then the cold war ends and it's the terrorists. Then it's women. Then it's gay marriage. Now you want to magically fire all the bad teachers. You know, I'll just bet six two and even as soon as you fire all the "bad" teachers, as if you can magically deduce that, another couple years and you'll be in some bar or on some blog bitching and moaning about some new scapegoat so you don't have to look in the mirror. Teachers are just scapegoat of the month. I'm glad to be of service to you so you can find someone to blame for all the ills of the world. How lovely.

Anonymous said...

This is a very real threat and should not be underestimated. What if, for example, 75% of SFUSD teachers are women, and 5% black, and let's say that when Don and AB and Garcia and whoever else decide who's bad, 90% are women and 15% are black, and over on Hispanic, disabled, old, gay, any protected group, on the percentage Don and AB decide are "bad" and should be "fired", "immediately", "with no due process and no severance"! SFUSD will be opening itself up to a huge lawsuit by the NAACP, the ACLU and all kinds of groups. We won't have any money left for things like school supplies, janitors, teaching children.

Bashing teachers is just the wrong way to go. This Vergara suit is going about it the wrong way. We have to bring everyone to the table, all teachers, good and bad in your declaration, all parents, everyone, and work together to fix this. Trying to fix it by playing different people off of each other is not just ineffective and cruel but could also be costly.

Don Krause said...

"a strict dependence on seniority-based layoffs, especially in California, may result in the loss of diversity among minority teachers, the number of which has increased by nearly 14,000 since 2001. Diversity itself, whether among students or teachers, is a valued asset in public education. Facilitating exposure to diversity inside the classroom is so important to education that the Supreme Court has deemed it a compelling government interest to be obtained through active programs such as affirmative action. By getting rid of the less experienced teachers who have more recently entered the workforce, administrators run the risk of stripping California public schools of a diverse population of teachers.:

Nathan Low

Don Krause said...

First you put it down as nonsense. Now you're saying it's a real threat. Did you ever even bother to read about it? You can't seem to get a grasp of what this is exactly. And that is an attempt to strike down 5 California statutes as unconstitutional. Of course it is a threat to the unions. Why do you think they want to be named as defendants?

But Vergara is not about teacher bashing. Sure some supporters will be teacher bashers. There are those on the other side like you, people who support child molesters in the classroom since you think no teacher should ever under any circumstance be fired. (your words not mine) In fact, removing the lowest performing teachers will strengthen the profession like nothing since the advent of the credential. Once again your views are uniformed. You might try reading up on it before you talk. Just like when you said that LAUSD's pull out was a blow to Vergara when it's the exact opposite.

Don Krause said...

Deasy would appear to be a friendly witness for the plaintiffs. In a statement, he said he supports lengthening the probationary period, quickening the dismissal process, and reforming the state's layoff law. "To my dismay, we have lost thousands of our best and hardest-working classroom instructors through the last hired, first fired rule. When forced to reduce our teaching staff through budget cuts, we are compelled through state law and union rules to base these difficult decisions primarily on seniority," Deasy said.
But when questioned, Deasy will be pressed to acknow

ledge that it may not be the laws but the implementation that counts. Since joining the district, first as deputy superintendent, then superintendent, Deasy has pushed administrators to apply more scrutiny in granting tenure and more perseverance in dismissing bad teachers.

Anonymous said...

Did you know that Nathan Low is vigorously opposed by both Dennis Kelly and Ken Tray? I trust their judgement more than yours in terms of what's moral and supportive of teachers.

Anonymous said...

Dennis Kelly and Ken Tray are reliable in always supporting our educators. We must always support educators. It is just negative energry and hurtful to turn on some educators. It is a noble profession and we can work together to solve problems in our schools. There are no bad teachers, just misunderstood teachers who are trying and struggling mightily against all odds. We must work together as a community. Ken Tray and Dennis Kelly have said this countless times, but it's really true, we must always support candidates for board who consistently support educators. San Francisco is a difficult City because so many people want poor children to sacrifice their culture and just worry about test scores, and tell kids to act like the Asian kids. That road leads nowhere. It's insanity. Every family must preserve it's culture and fight it's way out of poverty and oppression, not to mention the fact that the government starves our schools of decent funding in an effort to drive minorities and the poor out of San Francisco. Most San Franciscans only care about the rich. My students can't go to a store without getting followed and dirty looks and threatened and attacked. Before we change this, we can't blame teachers.