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Yesterday, in a great diary, Zenbassoon discussed an opening round loss in a court case based on due process in California.   While many of the comments grasped the issue, as the night wore on, more commentary boiled down into a seeming dance over: "I don't get tenure at my job" "I don't know if K-12 needs tenure".

There are several issues at play here, but I think one of the biggest is that we don't quite grasp why Due Process is incredibly important to keeping effective teachers.  So, I wanted to take a second to issue a rebuttal of those 'we don't need tenure or due process' arguments.

I want to say up front I am NOT a teacher, but I would encourage you to read through numerous diaries I've written over the last six months as I've devoted serious time to understanding this issue and working with some of the advocates behind the teaching debate.   I've taken time to listen to the other side, but for this diary, I want a rebuttal of some of the problematic talking points.

The example provided here asks: if other jobs can be fired, why not teachers even without cause?

There are numerous issues at play here - some I want to get to later.   But in this instance, the commenter highlights the idea that lawyers and others specifically can be fired, and they move on.  

What is missing from this equation is that a lawyer can quit a law firm, walk across the street, and go work for another law firm at higher pay tomorrow.   A lawyer can listen to head hunters and has free agency to decide where they work.

If you are a teacher, you make a commitment to a school district for a period of a year (for the most part) a semester (far less likely).   Other public schools cannot 'poach' you for higher pay, and if you walk out or quit, other public schools are fairly barred from hiring you back within that school year without VERY special circumstances.

This also gets to a second problem:  What constitutes cause for a teacher?

In this case, a teacher was terminated for failure to give a passing grade to a student who didn't earn it - simply because he was a star athlete.

What constitutes cause or lack of cause?  And what implications are there for students?

So, you fire at will.. how does that work out...

First, I want to say openly I'm not mocking any commenter.  I think this is a good time to have this discussion.   The question being made here is one of optics.   Through years of PR work, you'd believe that most teachers are ineffectual poor teachers and that is the cause of the system issue.

As Dizzydean points out in the diary, numerous studies have shown something quite different:

http://www.ascd.org/...

The average turnover rate for elementary schools in this district was 19 percent, although the majority of schools had averages under 19 percent. At least eight schools had an average teacher turnover rate of more than 40 percent over the five years analyzed, and one school had an average rate of approximately 70 percent. As with previous research, both low student achievement and a large percentage of minority students were moderately correlated with high teacher turnover. The correlation1  between teacher turnover and student achievement in reading was -.306 and in mathematics was -.282. The correlation between teacher turnover and minority enrollment was .293.
The greatest issue facing schools with large minority populations or inner city schools isn't even close to due process.  The prime issue is teacher turnover; the rate of teachers who do not stay for various reasons and the lack of incentives to do so.   Ending Due Process doesn't help this at all, in fact, it greatly increases turnover and provides teachers with a lesser track record and no continuity for parents to have to measure against.

Again, do not take what I'm saying as an attack on Anime.  I think he represents the real issue teachers unions face.  There has been so much misinformation and lack of understanding that we aren't making the next steps.

Tenure/Due Process doesn't apply to many jobs because in those occupations not only do you have free agency (he can easily quit and go be a janitor somewhere else), but also because the basic product you are dealing with is different.

When I used to work in an office (thank goodness no longer) I could leave work at 5pm, go home and know that when I arrived in the morning my work would be in the same place.   Teachers have no such expectations.  You may deal with students who had a good night, bad night, struggled with homework, raced through it or any other unknown factors.    And unlike other employment, while a teacher is often portrayed as the 'boss' of their classroom, a teacher cannot fire students and they can't fire parents.  

Teachers simply aren't turning out widgets.   They are trying to produce the next generation of critical thinkers.

This point, however, is where we go off the rails.

Unfortunately when we talk about due process, this is the way that communities have been trained to look at the issue.   Teachers should do what their boss says.  In the mind of the people who oppose due process, that 'boss' is a principle or school board.  Just do what they say.

This, however, conflicts with reality.   Teachers are often demanded to work against the wishes of their principle or school board because their actual boss is the student, who will repay the community through taxes when they grow up.  A teacher's employer isn't the current tax payer - it is the future one.

Why is this important?   Because teachers are often tasked with dealing with very difficult subjects.  

Think about this:

A teacher sometimes needs to give a grade that doesn't make parents (the current taxpayer) happy.   This is part of their job.

Is it ever your job in any other industry to give the 'customer' something they don't want?   No.

But it is an important part of the academic reality of a teacher.  A teacher can make a C+ feel to a child as though they worked very hard, or they can tell a student with an A- they didn't work hard enough.  That is the nature of education.  (Thanks to Zen, this came from Taylor Mali)

Teachers must advocate to school budgets and boards that a student needs more funding for special needs services (IEP), or that students shouldn't receive social promotion.  Students who need extra help with food services or hygiene.

These things don't happen in jobs where you output widgets or work product.   It simply doesn't work that way.

A teacher who is asked to do 'just what the current taxpayer says' creates a future of children who are less informed and have fewer chances.. meanwhile, a teacher who respects the fact that their boss is actually the child in front of them, 20 years from now - they get it.  That child will pay back his cost of education later when he contributes to society.  

Finally, I want to touch on an argument that comes up repeatedly:

Bad teachers can't be fired because of tenure.
In fact, this is not at all true.  While made fun of in film and elsewhere, the reality is, having reviewed contracts in 10 states and spoken to numerous attorneys on the matter, in most states teachers can be dismissed almost immediately with CAUSE.   I had no problems finding cases of teachers who were fired in even tenure states for: mocking students, insulting a gay student, etc.

The difference is that there is a specific process to go through.   In speaking to superintendents and members in four states, I found that those who actually do their job and understand how to handle the paperwork get through it just fine:

"It's not that much different from the process I had in HR when I worked for major companies.  Verbal Warning, Written Warning, Termination and establish cause."
Is the exact quote I have from superintendents who have dealt with this issue.   In some states, there is work to do about making the process easier to understand and to provide a better wording of the law - and if you want those kind of reforms, we can work on those things.  

But we move into unsupported hyperbole when we decide to blame educational failures on teacher tenure.

If this was the case, the  highest performing schools would be somewhere like Louisiana, compared to the highest performing schools being in Massachusetts, where they have some of the strongest teacher union rules.

This is the reality, taken from a diary I did a few months ago talking about the ALEC plan for education:

http://www.dailykos.com/...

  Dr. Heilig: It’s really win-win for them here.   If the state scores go down, they can throw up their hands and say they provided more money, despite the fact that many of their proposals are likely to harm the system.  If the scores go up, they take credit.

    Looking at Kansas, your NAEP scores are top-20.   So there are grounds for improvement, but the state isn’t in trouble.  People are proposing policy solutions for non-problems.  No matter how the results turn up, they get to look as though they have the solution and the opposition is the problem.

While I interviewed him discussing Kansas, it really applies everywhere.   When we move to teachers who can be quickly fired and hired, without free agency we create a marketplace of low cost teachers who are at the mercy of a school district.   As quality goes down and you decrease costs, politicians simply say "see, we told you the schools were the problem.." and then the cut more funding or move to privatize more schools.

It becomes a death spiral.

I realize not everyone here will agree with me on this issue, but we need to step back and realize that teaching isn't the same as being in another profession.  You are literally producing the future of our society, not producing a widget or a car.

Originally posted to tmservo433 on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 08:42 AM PDT.

Also republished by Teachers Lounge.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (20+ / 0-)

    Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

    by Chris Reeves on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 08:42:23 AM PDT

  •  The "C+ and A-" quote comes from Taylor Mali (6+ / 0-)

    "What Teachers Make"

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 08:49:27 AM PDT

  •  Excellent and thoughtful diary. (9+ / 0-)

    I can't help repeat what I wrote yesterday: It's a shame we don't have a pro-union party in this country.  We have one that accepts election-season help from unions, but that's not quite the same thing.

    And for those of you who are anti-union: How about at least a pro-worker party?

    Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

    by corvo on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 09:06:53 AM PDT

  •  Many here have read what I have to say about (8+ / 0-)

    abusive teachers.  And the "good teachers" who ignore year after year of kids telling them their best-buddy who is so amusing in the break room is abusive toward kids.  

    I spent most of my k-12 years in a district that was used schools in my majority-minority neighborhood as a dumping ground for the worst of the worst.

    But the answer isn't to let asshole administrators fire teachers at will.  There is no part of the problem of bad teachers that can be solved by giving even more arbitrary power to their superiors.

    All that achieves is putting the small minority of teachers who recognize how tragically broken the system is and who strive to make what changes they can out on their ass for challenging the administration.

    If they want to get rid of bad teachers, they can do the damn work and build their damn cases.  If they can't build a case, too bad.

    The system can absolutely be reformed to allow for more community input into the process.  "Good teachers" can have it further impressed upon them that they need to be reporting all abuse they learn about another teacher committing, not just sexual abuse.  

    All workers deserve due process.  Teachers really aren't as special as you've tried to make them out to be.  We all lose an immense amount of invested time when we lose a job.  It's not just "Go across the street and get another job as a janitor" - particularly not a union job with benefits.

    It losing weeks of vacation pay, years spent getting vested so your pension could start growing, ect.  It's a massive financial set-back for most.

    It's not "I don't get tenure, why should they?!?!?!".

    It's "They get a right to due process before termination, why don't all of us?!?!?"

    ProTip - the people who like to play PVP MMORPG's often see this site as one.

    by JesseCW on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 09:29:16 AM PDT

  •  Very nicely written and a great summary (5+ / 0-)

    I am pro-teacher. That means hiring great ones, mentoring young ones, and removing the ones that don't support students and the other teachers in our collective goal of education and child development.

    Quality evaluations are part of that; good teachers want to grow and develop.

    A teacher is a very important part of a child's development and progress. But, the VARIATION between teachers has really only a small impact on outcomes as we currently measure them. Part of that is because we are terrible at measuring outcomes and even worse at having any kind of good control for outcomes.

    The American Statistical Association writes:
    http://www.amstat.org/...

    VAMs should be viewed within the context of quality improvement, which distinguishes aspects of quality that can be attributed to the system from those that can be attributed to individual teachers, teacher preparation programs, or schools. Most VAM studies find that teachers account for about 1% to 14% of the variability in test scores, and that the majority of opportunities for quality improvement are found in the system-level conditions. Ranking teachers by their VAM scores can have unintended consequences that reduce quality.
    Teaching is not an individual sport - it is a team effort. It does not matter if you have a superstar 5th grade teacher if your 3rd and 4th grade teachers don't hand off students prepared for the next level and ready to learn. Teachers want good colleagues. They need good colleagues.

    You don't build great teams with stack-ranking, where you're constantly looking for some weakest member to thin from the herd.

    The procedures in California absolutely can be streamlined and improved. But, good administrators can and do remove poor and deficient teachers every year, even senior ones.

    There are a lot of short-term pressures on teachers to give kids better grades, to stay quiet about problems, etc. Like any civil service job, politics can override long term interests without these protections.

    Just like police officers: you don't want the guy who arrested the mayor's daughter to find himself out of work the next day.

    The reports that the judge is relying on are quite controversial among statisticians. A great source of writing about education data is Bruce Baker at School Finance 101.

    Here is a fun one:
    The Endogeneity of the Equitable Distribution of Teachers: Or, why do the girls get all the good teachers?

    This issue becomes particularly thorny when we try to make assertions about the equitable distribution of teaching quality. Yes, as per the figure above, teachers do sort across schools and we have much reason to believe that they sort inequitably. We have reason to believe they sort inequitably with respect to student population characteristics. The problem is that those same student population characteristics in many cases also strongly influence teacher ratings.

    As such, those teacher ratings themselves aren’t very useful for evaluating the equitable distribution of teaching. In fact, in most cases it’s a pretty darn useless exercise, ESPECIALLY with the measures commonly adopted across states to characterize teacher quality.Being able to determine the inequity of teacher quality sorting requires that we can separate #1 and #2 above. That we know the extent to which the uneven distribution of students affected the teacher rating versus the extent to which teachers with higher ratings sorted into more advantaged school settings.

    Figure 4 presents the cross school correlations between student demographic indicators and teacher ratings. Again, we see that there are more low rated teachers in higher poverty, higher minority concentration schools.

    But, as a little smell-test here, I’ve also included % female students, which is often a predictor of not just student test score levels but also rates of gain. What we see here is that at the middle and secondary level, there are fewer “bad” teachers in schools that have higher proportions of female students.

    Does that make sense? Is it really the case that the “good” teachers are taking the jobs in the schools with more girls?

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 09:53:18 AM PDT

    •  More from Bruce Baker: (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tmservo433, RiveroftheWest, mrkvica

      http://schoolfinance101.wordpress.com/...

      The implications of ratings bias vary substantially by the policy preferences supported to resolve the supposed inequitable distribution of teaching. One policy preference is the “fire the bad teachers” preference, assuming that a whole bunch of better teachers will line up to take their jobs. If we impose this policy alternative using such severely biased measures as the Massachusetts or New Jersey measures, we will likely find ourselves disproportionately firing and detenuring, year after year, teachers in the same high need schools, having little or nothing to do with the quality of the teachers themselves. As each new batch of teachers enters these schools, and subsequently faces the same fate due to the bogus, biased measures it seems highly unlikely that high quality candidates will continue to line up. This is a disaster in the making.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 09:55:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Bad teachers - those who use bullies as enforcers, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest

        belittle and attack students, manipulate children they want to get rid of into outburst, act capriciously, and play favorites - are negative value added.

        It's better to let them go and suffer with huge class sizes than to keep them around and continue to make excuses for the active harm they cause to all around them.

        ProTip - the people who like to play PVP MMORPG's often see this site as one.

        by JesseCW on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 12:44:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You're completely right (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest, mrkvica

          But that kind of "negative value" won't show on test scores. And the heavy desire of groups like "Students Matter" to rely on those test scores will mean that some teachers who bully and belittle students may actually be protected by those scores. Especially in the most typical cases, where only a few students receive that treatment.

          An administrator who is on the ball can remove those teachers now, if she has the support of her district.

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 12:52:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  That many teachers are particularly bad at (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest

      teaching and relating to boys does not somehow mean they are not bad teachers.

      ProTip - the people who like to play PVP MMORPG's often see this site as one.

      by JesseCW on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 12:43:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Teachers do need protections. (5+ / 0-)

    But it should be possible to fire them, if they are incompetent. California's laws were extremely strict compared to many other states, which is why they were struck down. The point is to find a balance.

    http://www.latimes.com/...

    •  LAUSD has huge problems firing teachers (6+ / 0-)

      They oversee 700 schools - which for perspective is so large that if you visited two schools every school day it would take you four years to see them all.

      As a consequence, they have a huge number of teachers, and no one knows them all even loosely. It makes it much easier to think there's some other opening far away that might suit someone who isn't working out and make it someone else's problem, and much harder to take a hard line all the way to the superintendent to remove that problem person.

      Their most notorious case, though, of a teacher they paid to leave after he was charged with sexual impropriety - the year before they could have fired him without even giving any reason. So the problem isn't California law - it's LAUSD organization, management, and bureaucracy.

      Other districts do not have those same issues.

      I've sat on interview panels to hire administrators a couple of times. It's quite interesting to hear such different answers from the candidates about the difficulty in removing a staff member. It's clear district culture is a strong factor.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 10:43:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  No. I'm not falling for it. (5+ / 0-)
    "Teachers are often demanded to work against the wishes of their principle or school board because their actual boss is the student, who will repay the community through taxes when they grow up.  A teacher's employer isn't the current tax payer - it is the future one."
    This is a blatant attempt to avoid any supervision and/or accountability. Priesthoods and mystics use this trick all the time. They say they, "answer only to God" or some similar bunk.

    And who interprets the needs and wishes of "the future taxpayer"? Why, the teacher of course! Fox, meet Henhouse.

    "I don't answer to you...I answer only to the Future..." Yeah, right. Unless you are this guy, we have a problem.

    I think we should agree that teachers answer to the VOTERS. Just like the every other Government employee. That is what it means to live in a Democracy.

    That said, I am in favor of Tenure and believe teachers should be difficult to fire. In fact, they should be more difficult to fire than private sector employees because tenure is a defense against political corruption and cronyism.

    The question is not, "Should there be due process?"

    The question is, "How much should there be?".

    The judge said that the rules in California were designed so that bad teachers:

    1) Stayed in the system too long, and
    2) Were concentrated in poor and minority neighborhoods.

    I think that any criticism of the ruling should be based on California-specific facts. Was the court's finding of these two facts correct or incorrect? That's the discussion we need.

    •  I believe his finding of facts was incorrect (4+ / 0-)

      In particular, point (2).

      Teachers do prefer to work in high performing schools. They tend to be schools with better amenities and more engaged parents and students that are ready to learn. And teachers in high performing schools get evaluated as better teachers. Leading to teachers to prefer to work there.

      High staff turnover is associated with low performing schools. This can be both a cause and an effect.

      LAUSD seniority arrangements can cause these issues more than some, because teachers are free to keep their seniority and seek assignment at more desirable schools. And, LAUSD has both very low income and very high income schools, unlike most districts. A small change to the rules such that seniority is more tied to length of service at a particular school would completely change the dynamic.

      In my local district, this isn't a factor at all because there's no better school to go to within the area.

      On point (1), many problem teachers are removed via behind the scenes negotiation, and these cases are confidential.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 10:51:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Point was spot on. Everyone in California (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nextstep, RiveroftheWest

        who actually grew up in poor and majorit-minority neighborhoods is painfully aware of it.

        Nearly all major school districts in CA use such schools as dumping grounds.

        ProTip - the people who like to play PVP MMORPG's often see this site as one.

        by JesseCW on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 12:47:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The reason why teachers answer (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest, mrkvica

      To a future population is becaus if the current one - even parents, objects to science or reporting society demands that for future growth they do.

      You are making this 'they account to nobody'.  

      And no, I can't agree teachers account to voters.  Do this and watch education everywhere, even in upstate California devolve into mysticism as 'voters' would demand teaching of non science and puffery.  

      My diary wasn't to say that we shouldn't look at how to improve the process. It was to say that in zenbassoons diary it became overrun with the concept that due process itself is bad and undeserved.

      Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

      by Chris Reeves on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 11:06:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  C'mon man. Listen to yourself. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JesseCW, Neuroptimalian

        You are saying that Teachers should be an unaccountable priesthood, answerable only to their own vision of what a "future society" should look like.

        Maybe the voters will make some bad decisions, but it's a Democracy. We must tolerate that.

        Imagine if the Military started to refuse commands from the President, saying, "We don't serve mere voters! We serve HONOR!"?

        What if the SEC refused to enforce laws against banks, saying, "We don't serve the voters! We serve THE FREE MARKET"? (Oh wait, that actually happened, lol).

        Everybody has a boss. You may not like it, but that is how it is.

        •  Think about this. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elfling, mrkvica, RiveroftheWest

          Here's what happens in your conclusion:

          Right wing school board members take over school boards and liquify employees who don't preach intelligent design, allow prayer and deny climate science.

          You also jump to the idea that 'voters make bad decisions, but it's a democracy we have to allow for that..'

          Ok, let's look at other public servants.   Do you think public servants can just say: "I don't like this police officer.  He should be fired.  They don't do their job?"  

          No, much the same, a police officer goes in front of a tribunal finding (in MOST, not all states) and then if there is a finding of merit it moves on.

          This is how you let the purpose of the position be handled by society.

          When I say: their employers are the future, or police who's employers are society as a whole, it doesn't mean that they have to -like- them all the time, or that administration does either.

          Your comparison to the SEC is invalid, because again, saying that you need to provide a service to the outcome is common... numerous real professions serve a purpose of future outcome.  Think of any research scientist.  Is their job to simply say: "here is the answer" or is it to say "I'm working on a long term project?"

          Teachers are working on that long term project.

          Do I say teachers can't or shouldn't be terminated?  No.  In fact, within the body I promote Due Process, which means you get a finding of fact against a teacher and you terminate them.

          As others have pointed out in the case of many areas the issue is that rather than go through the procedures schools just ship teachers around.. is that the fault of the system, or is the fault of the same administration you now wish to empower to fire on site without cause?

          Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

          by Chris Reeves on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 03:34:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Other public employees have due process (3+ / 0-)

    in fact in most states, certainly in California, protection against wrongful termination of public employees is quite strong.  Those protections also apply to professional-level public employees--physicians, attorneys, scientists, nurses--all of whom are expected to work as long as it takes to complete their jobs, whether 40, 50, or 60+ hours a week.  

    I still don't get why teachers need something that is so different from other professional public employees.  Losing tenure protection will leave teachers with the same due process that these others have.  What's wrong with that?

    Your characterization of the students as a teacher's boss is incorrect.  The students are the customers, just like public defenders' clients and nurses' patients are customers.  Those public employees have an important responsibility to serve them to the best of their abilities, but the clients/patients/students are not their bosses.

    •  Students are customers? (4+ / 0-)

      Nonsense, and for two reasons:

      1. In capitalist societies, it is the merchant's job to ensure that the customer receive the least amount of goods and services for the greatest price.  The customer, of course, seeks exactly the opposite.  Public education is not -- or at least should not be -- provided on such a mutually antagonistic and money-based model.

      2. The customer has the privilege of determining what he wants or needs, and can walk away if he feels the merchant does not, cannot, or will not meet them.  Hard to impute that kind of privilege to, say, a ten-year-old, and parents merit that privilege only in a limited sense.  They have the right to demand a quality education, but much less right to stipulate what that quality education consists of (no evolution, for instance?).

      Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

      by corvo on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 10:20:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Teachers are also expected to work as long (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tmservo433, Lady Libertine

      as it takes to complete the job. I don't know any who work only the official minutes. There's no way to do so and meet expectations.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 10:52:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  No, they will have NO due process. A teacher (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JesseCW, RiveroftheWest, mrkvica

      will be able to be fired for any reason and not be able to do anything about it.

      For teaching evolution, for example.

      For wearing the "wrong clothes"

      For getting pregnant--see the stories about single Catholic school teachers getting pregnant and getting fired.

      For being gay

      For giving the star athlete a failing grade, keeping him from playing in the state final

      A teacher will be fired for ALL those reasons.

      And will be BLACKLISTED.

      "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

      by zenbassoon on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 12:28:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I can't recommend this strongly enough (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tmservo433, RiveroftheWest, mrkvica
    This, however, conflicts with reality.   Teachers are often demanded to work against the wishes of their principle or school board because their actual boss is the student, who will repay the community through taxes when they grow up.  A teacher's employer isn't the current tax payer - it is the future one.
    And not the current student, but the adult that student will become--and the community and society in which that adult functions--and that adult's children and younger relatives.
  •  Assume this works exactly as intended (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tmservo433, RiveroftheWest

    You are unlikely to get people going into teaching for the long term, at least at current salaries.

    Even if you get bright and highly motivated teachers for a few years each, and perhaps benefiting from the latest knowledge, and even in the unlikely event that there are fewer clunkers, you are losing insights into pedagogy, wisdom, mentoring, and maturity.

    And most of them will not yet have discovered what it really means to teach. (After 35 years as a professor, I could use a little more guidance myself.)

  •  My dept chair is a climate change denier (5+ / 0-)

    I'm a science teacher.  That's why I need tenure.

    You "liberal" teacher haters out there: Do you really want teabag and fundamentalist wingnuts taking over school boards and forcing RW propaganda into classrooms? Because that's what will happen when teachers become at will employees with no right to due process.

    Light is seen through a small hole.

    by houyhnhnm on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 12:41:47 PM PDT

  •  KPFA FM Berkeley had a great interview this (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Be Skeptical, mrkvica, RiveroftheWest

    AM with an Oakland CA teacher about this decision. One of the points she made is that teachers get abysmal supervision. She's been teaching there 20 years, and has been evaluated

                        twice.

    Where I work, HR nags the supervisors and makes them evaluate employees; you can be 6 months late, but not 10 years.

    If school administrations were better, teachers would be evaluated promptly and fairly, and due-process in the case of incompetent teachers would go faster and, because of good documentation of warnings and other personnel actions, would be more effective.

    As in many other areas of education, this pretty much boils down to terrible funding for schools.

    •  Not just funding though (0+ / 0-)

      Oakland Unified is nowhere near one of the worst funded districts in CA.  Per pupil spending there is even higher than in Newport Beach and Santa Monica/Malibu.

      It's complicated...

      Good points about the need for regular evals.

      •  Is it? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mrkvica, Be Skeptical, RiveroftheWest

        Oakland Unified is a very high needs district, very likely having some significant and appropriate expenditures that Newport Beach and Santa Monica don't.

        Also: I don't know where your numbers come from, but very typically high net worth schools have a substantial amount of spending 'off the books' controlled by PTA groups. These groups can have budgets of hundreds of thousands of dollars a year per school, enough that they pay for staff salaries, not to mention field trips and extracurricular activities. The numbers you looked at may or may not include that spending.

        There are public schools that are asking for, and getting, $3,000 per kid per year from parents.

        By contrast, my school's outside fundraising would be on order of $3000 for the whole school.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 05:46:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sure, all of that is true. (0+ / 0-)

          Data is from the State of California DOE. As Oakland is a Unified district, I only looked at other unified districts.  Spending in Oakland doesn't seem out of expectations though.  

          Current Expense of Education by district

          I looked at spending per days of pupil enrollment.  The highest per pupil cost districts tend to be very small districts in remote rural areas that probably have tiny schools spread over large areas.

          Sausalito School District is an interesting case.  Per pupil spending is just about the highest of any district in the state (over $40,000).  Yet student performance, at  least as measured very imperfectly by test scores, ranks very low.  Most of the residents of this wealthy town send their children to private schools.  The public school students mostly come from the Marin City area, which has many  poor residents.  This data point does provide some evidence that $$$ alone are not nearly sufficient.  Of course, it would be interesting to see how those children improved during their time in the Sausalito schools.

          •  I can confirm for you that this does not count (0+ / 0-)

            expenditures by PTAs etc.

            You are quite right that money is only part of the story.

            The column labeled "Current Expense ADA" is the ADA for the district, and you can typically estimate a 90-95% attendance rate for a total headcount.

            Very small schools are funded as Necessary Small Schools and have a different formula than larger schools, as you surmised. Sausalito is a "Basic Aid" district, meaning they're funded out of their own property taxes rather than by the state formulas. It looks like they also had a special grant and were doing some deficit spending, and are in a period of declining enrollment, all of which will make the numbers a little odd. But it also looks like they made what I would characterize as some curious spending choices with what they had.

            http://www.sfgate.com/...
            http://www.marinij.com/...

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 10:03:14 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Sausalito School District has had chronic problems (0+ / 0-)

              and poor spending decisions (if not outright corruption) going back years.   Now there is only a single regular public school left and attendance is still dropping.  There is a public charter school which has a good reputation.  Probably the students attending that school would raise the test score average for the remaining non-charter public school if included with them.

              The Marin IJ newspaper notes that all the students have iPads and average class size is 13, plus lots of other attractive features.  Yet the school still performs very poorly, suggesting that spending money and providing extensive resources and lowering class sizes are not going to make a magical difference.  Something else is needed, at least in this setting.

              And yes, you are right about the PTA fundraising etc for that goes on in some of the wealthier schools.  The public elementary school where my kids went routinely raises around $100 k from its spring auction.  It makes some difference in the overall spending, sure, but on the whole it doesn't have a huge effect on district-level spending averages.  Even at our fairly wealthy local school it's still quite a bit less than $500 per student.

    •  Well but also (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest

      think of all the pressure there is to put as many dollars into individual classrooms as possible.

      Administrators evaluating teachers does not count as dollars in the classroom. It's the evil administration budget and there is a lot of pressure to make it smaller not larger.

      Add in the recent budget crisis and you'll see that schools cut administrators to unsustainably low levels. There was a district in Sonoma County that was sharing a principal across two elementary schools in different locations, meaning that two days a week, each elementary school had no administrator on site.

      Given the options available, I imagine I would make a similar choice - protect teachers, cut back administration, hope it only lasts a year. But something has to give when this happens, and formal teacher evaluations, particularly of non-probationary teachers, is usually among them.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 05:40:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I can't disagree- inadequate funding also (0+ / 0-)

        means inadequate administration.

        This is such a big, complex, multilayered, octopus-armed, thorny issue (sorry for miscegenated metaphors I couldn't resist). I think we have to have and promote a long, painstaking dialog and fact-finding about education, which is long overdue in this country. Set down arms, get out of the trenches, stop lobbing stuff at each other, go to the table and start figuring things out. It is high time we have a rational approach to education policy.

  •  Vergara explained: (0+ / 0-)

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 08:40:42 PM PDT

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