Secret rich people are attacking public education in Minnesota, suing the state over its teacher tenure and “last in, first out” teacher layoff policies. The plaintiffs, backed by out-of-state anti-labor crusaders Foundation for Educational Justice, claim that labor protections for teachers deny children of quality education.
The litigants might want to check California, where a state appeals court just reversed a 2014 decision and upheld California’s teacher tenure laws, finding that protecting teachers from arbitrary firing and retribution does not cause kids to get a bad education:
“The challenged statutes do not inevitably lead to the assignment of more inexperienced teachers to schools serving poor and minority children,” Presiding Justice Roger Boren said in the 3-0 ruling. “Rather, assignments are made by administrators and are heavily influenced by teacher preference and collective bargaining agreements.”
As a consequence, he said, if some students are now being deprived of a decent education, they will still be deprived even if the laws are struck down [Bob Egelko, “Teacher Tenure in California Upheld by Appeals Court,” San Francisco Chronicle, 2016.04.14].
I’m surprised and relieved we didn’t revisit this old argument in South Dakota this year during our debate over raising teacher salaries. But with big-money interests trying to push school privatization with stealth vouchers, we must watch for other attempts to undermine public schools. “Tenure”—and it really belongs in mocking quotation marks, since no real tenure exists in K-12 education, just “continuing contract”—does not stop conscientious school administrators and boards from getting rid of bad teachers. It just requires them to get their ducks in a row and give all teachers due process, just as we do in the justice system, to protect good, innocent teachers from being removed for bad reasons. Let’s hope the Minnesota courts follow California in recognizing that fact.