Testimony In California Teacher Job Protections Lawsuit Begins

Several media reports are covering the beginning of arguments in a California lawsuit challenging state laws protecting teacher employment. The Los Angeles Times (1/27, Ceasar) reports that the lawsuit questions “the constitutionality of laws that govern California’s teacher tenure rules, seniority policies and the dismissal process – an overhaul of which could upend controversial job security for instructors.” Plaintiffs argue that since the laws “do not ensure all students have access to an adequate education,” they violate the state constitution’s equal protection guarantee. The lawsuit “seeks to revamp a dismissal process the plaintiffs say is too costly and time consuming” and to make tenure more difficult to obtain.

        The AP (1/27) reports that the case centers around “the emotionally divisive issue of whether California public school teachers should be protected from dismissal if they are found to be grossly ineffective in their jobs.” The AP reports that the plaintiffs want “to abolish teacher tenure and seniority,” while representatives of the state and Gov. Jerry Brown “say such extreme measures are not needed.” On Monday, Los Angeles USD Superintendent John Deasy “testified about the difficulty of weeding out ‘grossly ineffective teachers’ in the 18-month probationary period before they are granted tenure.”

        Noting that the plaintiffs are backed by “a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and a lawyer who defended companies such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Apple Inc.,” Bloomberg News (1/27) reports that the students claim that laws “providing public-school teachers with tenure and four other statutes protecting their jobs violate children’s constitutional right to receive a basic education, especially in poor and minority schools.”

        EdSource Today (1/28) and Reuters (1/27) also cover this story.