In Today’s Education News

Something more than a little shocking:

L.A. judge strikes down California’s laws on teacher tenure, layoffs and dismissal

California’s laws on teacher tenure, layoffs and dismissal are unconstitutional, a Los Angeles trial judge has ruled.

In a case brought on behalf of nine schoolchildren, Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu wrote in a decision released Tuesday morning that the evidence “shocks the conscience” and that “there is also no dispute that there are a significant number of grossly ineffective teachers currently active in California classrooms.”

And, of course:

But enforcement of the much-awaiting ruling will be delayed pending an appeal by the lawsuit’s defendants, the state and California’s two major teachers unions.

Fun numbers:

Moreover, because of cumbersome dismissal procedures, Students Matter said, in 10 years only 91 of California’s teachers, who now number 285,000, have been fired, most for inappropriate conduct. And, the group noted that only 19 were dismissed for unsatisfactory performance.

So, the bottom 20% of college graduates by class ranking – who make up the bulk of teachers – are far, far more competent at their jobs that the rest of us: only .0007% get let go each year because they’re no good at their jobs – yet their jobs are so demanding that we pay them more per hour (adjusted for actual hours worked) than computer programmers and almost as much as engineers:

Teacher salaries
Select per hour compensation, from the 2010 Bureau of Labor Statistics report.       2 notes: most people work about 2,000 hours a year, so a rough annualized amount is hourly rate X 2000; in California, teachers make 125% of the national average.

So, teaching is a really hard job that nobody fails at. OK, OK – there’s really high attrition, so perhaps teachers as a group are so self-aware that they fire themselves via quitting. The judge in the article above doesn’t seem to think that’s it.

Here’s a philosophical thought: unions exist to further the interests of the workers in the union – they have no other reason to exist. This is well and good. Unions do not exist to ensure the quality of the product. Nobody died on the picket lines to make sure the coal got dug properly or that the buttons got sewed on in accordance with the highest standards of button-sewing. That’s management’s job – the job of the union is to get the best deal for the union members.

Yet, here in California, we are constantly told that doing anything at all to reign in the teacher’s union will harm the children. Unless they’re running a protection racket (not as entirely ridiculous a thought as it should be), how is that supposed to work? By assuring that no incompetent or child-abusing teachers ever get fired? Right.

I would propose a simple rule: any union that plays any card other than the perfectly legitimate ‘we’re here to protect our members’ card gets immediately disbanded. You want craven liars who think you’re stupid teaching your children?

Anyway, I would love to be wrong, but here’s how I see this playing out: While the union circles the elected officials it bought fair and square, the current strategy of slandering the people who brought the lawsuit will be expanded to include the judge. Behind the scenes, political pressure will be brought to bear on him, and legal maneuvers begun to get him off the case. Meanwhile, the protests of which this lawsuit is an aspect will simultaneously allow people to harmlessly blow off stream – you know, like the whole Occupy thing that changed nothing – and cause the real troublemakers to identify themselves, in case it gets serious.

It’s a tough juggling act: on the one hand, the union must claim that its members are the finest group of teachers ever to stand in a classroom, while on the other claiming the abject and manifest failure of our schools screams for more funding – yet that failure is in no way the responsibility of those excellent teachers. At some point, ya gotta ask – isn’t time to give something else a try?

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Author: Joseph Moore

Enough with the smarty-pants Dante quote. Just some opinionated blogger dude.

One thought on “In Today’s Education News”

  1. ” on the one hand, the union must claim that its members are the finest group of teachers ever to stand in a classroom, while on the other claiming the abject and manifest failure of our schools screams for more funding – yet that failure is in no way the responsibility of those excellent teachers.”

    So well put!! I never thought of it that way.

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