California Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu made a ruling with broad implications for the education system, teachers and society. The ruling found that teacher tenure violated the State Constitutional civil rights by not offering poor inner-city students equal opportunity for a quality education. In essence, the Judge found that tenure protected teachers at the expense of damaging the quality of education in inner-cities stating:
“Substantial evidence presented makes it clear to this court that the challenged statutes disproportionately affect poor and/or minority students.”
“The evidence is compelling. Indeed, it shocks the conscience.”
Judge Treu specifically criticized California’s inability to fire incompetent teachers stating: “All sides to this litigation agree that competent teachers are a critical, if not the most important, component of success of a child’s in-school educational experience,” and “there is also no dispute that there are a significant number of grossly ineffective teachers currently active in California classrooms.”
The negative reaction from teachers’ unions was immediate with California Federation of Teachers president saying: “We believe the judge fell victim to the anti-union, anti-teacher rhetoric and one of America’s finest corporate law firms that set out to scapegoat teachers for the real problems that exist in public education. There are real problems in our schools, but this decision in no way helps us move the ball forward.”
This is a typical unionists/leftist response, attacking the opposition’s integrity. To accept that there are “real problems” in America’s schools and exonerating teachers unions and their parochial interests from any part of the problem defies logic. The union’s real intent is clear; protect its members irrespective of the needs of greater society.
Tenure in the educational field came into existence to protect teachers with dissenting views from being harassed or fired. Tenure was therefore not for the protection of teachers, who currently in California received ten-year after 18 months of service, but instead for the protection of freely expressed knowledge and its related discourse. The result of tenure, however, has been much different. Not only has it helped incompetent teachers retain jobs, but it has not broaden political views within educational institutions with teaching positions, especially in universities, controlled by the Progressives.
With the decline of many American schools and the poor results graduates have performed in standardized test, the debate about tenure will continue to grow. There can be no more of a justification for teachers’ tenure for job protection than for any other American worker.
In recent decades the judicial system has become activist, inflicting Progressive dogma on society. That activism is now coming full circle with more conservative judges becoming willing to use judicial power to change society. The implications of this activist court are no more dangerous today than they were decades ago. To my friends on the Left, I say what goes around comes around.