Teacher Tenure Takes a Hit in California

Jun 11, 2014

A California judge has struck down the state's teacher tenure and seniority system, ruling it denies students their fundamental right to a quality education.

The LA Times reports the judge appeared to accept most of the prosecution's main arguments, including the idea that teachers can be fairly evaluated using student test scores. The paper also notes the judge rejected defense claims that teacher quality compares favorably to workforce quality in other fields.

The New York Times reports the case is expected to spawn other, similar lawsuits across the country.

In Rhode Island, Education Commissioner Deborah Gist has ordered school districts to alter their teacher contracts, removing seniority as the deciding factor in teacher layoffs and job placements. However, many school officials complain that tenure, a system of job protections for teachers who have been on the job for several years, makes it difficult to fire bad teachers.

Teachers unions are expected to appeal the California ruling, which they see as a setback for the teaching profession.

Meanwhile, 0pponents of teacher tenure are hailing the ruling as a win for students.

Education Week has interesting background information about the case, the families who started it and the organization that funded their lawsuit.