Calif. judge boots tenure laws: ‘Grossly ineffective teachers’ must go

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A judge in California ruled the state’s teacher tenure, dismissal and layoff laws are unconstitutional, opening the doors for administrators to get rid of underperforming teachers and promote good ones.

Los Angeles County Judge Rolf Treu said in his ruling that “grossly ineffective teachers” were especially hurting poor and minority students, CNN reported. He also wrote that the impact that bad teachers had on students “shocks the conscience” and referred to testimony that found the total of “grossly ineffective” teachers in the state came in around 8,250, CNN reported.

The state’s current law allows bad teachers to remain on the job for up to 10 years, the judge said, CNN reported.

“Given these facts, grossly ineffective teachers are being left in the classroom because school officials do not wish to go through the time and expense to investigate and prosecute these cases,” the judge wrote. “Based on the evidence before this court, it finds the current system required by the dismissal statutes to be so complex, time-consuming and expensive as to make an effective, efficient yet fair dismissal of a grossly ineffective teacher illusory.”

Education Secretary Arne Duncan hailed the ruling as a change to set up “a new framework for the teaching profession,” CNN reported.

He also said he had hopes that the ruling would lead to a national discourse to settle on a teacher tenure system “that is fair, thoughtful, practical and swift,” CNN reported.

“The students who brought this lawsuit are, unfortunately, just nine of out millions of young people in America who are disadvantaged by laws, practices and systems that fail to identify and support our best teachers and match them with our neediest students. Today’s court decision is a mandate to fix these problems,” Mr. Duncan added.

But the ruling isn’t set in stone. The court has already issued a stay, pending an appeal by the state and by the teachers union, CNN reported.

Teachers unions characterized the court ruling as “anti-public education,” CNN reported.

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