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Opening Arguments

So long, tenure?

If Eric Cantor's defeat was front-page stunning, here's a little inside-page shocker:

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled Tuesday that teacher tenure laws deprive students of their constitutional right to an education, a decision that hands teachers’ unions a major defeat in a landmark case that overturns several California laws that govern the way teachers are hired and fired.

“Substantial evidence presented makes it clear to this court that the challenged statutes disproportionately affect poor and/or minority students,” Judge Rolf M. Treu wrote in the ruling. “The evidence is compelling. Indeed, it shocks the conscience."

[. . .]

The plaintiffs argued that California’s current laws made it impossible to get rid of low-performing and incompetent teachers, who were disproportionately assigned to schools filled with poor students. The result, they insisted, amounted to a violation of students’ constitutional rights to an education.

As Allahpundit notes, this decision is unlikely to stand on appeal, and conservatives should be hesitant about constitutionalizing a new element of public policy, but it's at least worth saluting the idea that "the welfare of public-school students is more important than job security for public-school teachers." The whole concept of tenure has always seemed bizarre to me. Stay on the job long enough (only 18 months in California, byt the way), and you have a lifetime job no matter how crappy you are at it. Having worked all my life with the knowledge that unemployment could be just one performance review away, I view tenure as one more reason to get rid of public employee unions.

Get rid of the worst teachers, and education will improve. What a concept!


Larry Morris
Wed, 06/11/2014 - 9:29am


I firmly believe that three things are holding back our education system and are why we are falling behind.  This is one of them.  There must be a way to fire poor teachers or we will never be able to correct the situation.  The other two on my list are poor parental participation in the education of their children and the fact that the federal government is involved at all in education ...