Teachers in San Diego say they are disappointed by a judge’s decision to strike down tenure and other job protections for public school teachers in California Tuesday.
In a landmark decision, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu ruled such laws are unconstitutional and can actually harm students by leaving them stuck with bad teachers.
Siding with the nine students who brought the lawsuit, Treu ruled that California laws on the hiring and firing of teachers have resulted in "a significant number of grossly ineffective teachers currently active in California classrooms."
In San Diego, Bill Guy with the California Teachers Association, the state’s largest union with 325,000 members, called the ruling disappointing and vowed to appeal.
The process of teacher evaluations was already underway so the members feel the lawsuit was just one more way for big business or corporations to privatize education, Guy told NBC 7.
Also, he wishes the money spent on what he called a frivolous lawsuit had been put into education.
San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten head of the second largest school district in the state, would not comment when asked if she supported tenure or evaluations but instead said she was glad to see the public debate.
“We have an opportunity to have a national dialogue about something that is sacred and matters so much to having a quality education,” Marten said.
“This is historic – we get to have everybody have this conversation now.”
When asked what she thinks about tenure, she said she wants to “continue to have the conversation about tenure and about what matters for our students."
“These are complicated issues. They’re issues we deal with every day as educators and there won’t be a simple solution to this,” she said.
San Diego Unified Board Trustee Richard Barrera testified in the lawsuit as to the process for teacher layoffs.
Many San Diegans will remember the budget crisis facing SDUSD several years ago. Barrera said the district could not have survived the recession under a system proposed by the plaintiffs in the case.
“Teachers see the seniority-based system is fair. While they see a system based on student test scores as unfair and arbitrary,” Barrera said.
SDUSD was able to reach agreements with its teachers union and spare less senior teachers because of the system, he said.
The plaintiffs prefer a system where those teachers with the lowest test scores would be tapped first when layoffs are necessary.
“You’re creating an environment at the schools where teachers are less prone to trust each other and work with each other,” Barrera argued adding that replacing a collaborative system with a competitive system would not be good for kids.
The California Attorney General's office said it is considering its legal options.
If they lose the appeal, teachers will have to adjust as they always do, Guy said.