Skip to comments.Many Democrats Prioritizing Black Families Over Teachers Unions
Posted on 06/16/2014 4:22:01 AM PDT by Kaslin
Five teacher hiring and firing laws bit the dust in California this week. In a major blow to teachers unions, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treus ruling struck down teacher tenure, while freeing districts from spending hundreds of thousands to fire teachers and from having to fire newly-hired teachers first during layoffs.
The ruling is being applauded as a major civil rights victory, with Judge Treu comparing it with historic desegregation battle Brown v. Board of Education. Treu said both cases addressed a students fundamental right to equality of the educational experience. The data could not be clearer that the union-controlled public education monopoly disproportionately harms black and Latino students. But legal pushback on the issue puts the Democratic party in a tight spot. Party leaders can continue ignoring or thwarting reform efforts aimed at ensuring every child has access to a quality education. Or, they can jump on board the fight for equality, and alienate the teachers unions, historically among their most powerful allies. More and more Democrats are choosing the latter, putting them on the right side of history, but the wrong side of a very powerful lobby.
In his ruling Judge Treu described the evidence that Californias teacher hiring and firing laws harm poor and minority students compelling.
Indeed, it shocks the conscience, Treu wrote. At the trial, experts testified that teacher tenure laws, along with first in, last out protections for senior educators keep bad teachers in their jobs. And, unsurprisingly, districts usually place failing teachers in predominantly black and Hispanic schools. Californias black students are 43 percent more likely than whites to be taught by a failing teacher. Latino students are 68 percent more likely. Judge Treu ruled that this situation violates those students constitutional right to an equal education.
Getting stuck with even one bad teacher has devastating consequences going forward. Harvard Prof. Thomas Kane testified at the trial. He pointed out that a student assigned to a grossly ineffective math teacher loses nearly a full year of learning per year compared to a student assigned to a teacher of average effectiveness. Harvard Prof. Raj Chetty testified as well, showing research that a student with a grossly ineffective teacher for even one year loses $50,000 in lifetime earnings compared to a student assigned to an average teacher.
Many Democrats are coming around to the reality of the situation, and are standing up for poor and minority students. Politico reports that many high-profile Democrats have broken with the party on education reform agenda items such as charter schools, standardized testing, and teacher evaluation and accountability.
This follows work at the grassroots level from groups like Democrats for Education Reform and The Education Trust, two non-profits which have for years calling for reform to close the achievement gap between white and minority students, and rightly pointed to teacher union obstructionism as a prime reason so many efforts at public education reform have, until recently, gotten nowhere.
Even President Obama supports charters and accountability. His Education Secretary Arne Duncan supported the ruling. Millions of young people in America are disadvantaged by laws, practices and systems that fail to identify and support our best teachers and match them with our neediest students, Duncan said, calling the ruling a mandate to fix these problems.
Rules that protect bad teachers from firing are common across the country, not just in California. According to New Yorks school boards association, the average proceeding to remove even one incompetent teacher extends for 830 days and costs taxpayers $313,000. So teachers are far more likely to be moved to failing schools than fired. And these schools tend to be filled with black and Latino kids. The problem entrenches itself as those teachers stay in the system longer, where they are then protected by seniority. Not only does this keep a failing teacher in the classroom, but it makes it impossible for schools to hire new, more effective teachers.
The suit was filed by a group called Students Matter, made up of a group of 9 student plaintiffs, and backed by a Silicon Valley millionaire. They are considering similar lawsuits in Connecticut, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and elsewhere.
Opposition to teacher tenure is as commonplace as it is common sense. But legislative reform has been nigh-on impossible, thanks to pressure from teachers unions on lawmakers to maintain their legal protections. Its no surprise, then, that reform has required the courts to get involved.
However, striking down hiring and firing laws will likely improve Californias public education system by flushing out poor-quality teachers and making room for better ones. This will likely energize Democratic families frustrated by failing schools to demand action from their legislators. Then lawmakers will have to choose: Help struggling families get the same quality public education as their better-off peers, or continue protecting teachers unions from competition and accountability? Its an uneviable position, born from a disgusting history of pandering to and prioritizing labor at the expense of societys most vulnerable. Lets hope they do the right thing.
You mean coming around to the reality Republicans have been telling people for years?
Them chickens are a comin’ home to roost, dontcha know.
Any ruling coming out of CA is suspect since the judiciary is so corrupt. This could be a scheme to rid the system of whites and replace them with blacks and Mexicans.
The article fails to mention one of the biggest problems this poses for the Democrats. If they reform the school and get minority students a quality education, then presumably they may be able to think for themselves. Then, they may start questioning the Democratic mantra....
You mean that after 50 years of The Great Society there are some black families left? /S
“Many Democrats are coming around to the reality of the situation, and are standing up for poor and minority students.”
They are coming around to realization that with a more informed electorate, they are are losing votes.
Politicians in general are not concerned with the citizens welfare, only with votes and largesse that they can steal via the law.
Let me just say that:
1. I have no luv for Teachers Unions, and
2. The concept of “tenure” for K-12 teachers is ridiculous
With that out of the way, I don’t think it fair that the teachers get the lion’s share of the blame here. When you’re talking about the inner city, you’re dealing with a population that is either apathetic, or even hostile, to learning. Even if you took good teachers and put them in such an environment, how long before they quit or give up?
Case in point: I know a young man who taught at an inner city school and was stabbed by a student. The student got a slap on the wrist. That was the first and last year the young man was a teacher. He is now pursuing a degree in computer science instead.
Until the inner city culture changes, you are just re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
Equal education does not mean quality education for all.
A (bad) way around this ruling is to match white kids with bad teachers & schools, giving the blacks & Latinos preference in the good schools. That will better balance the racial numbers, while improving nothing.
What %? 0.037???
I think this IS them questioning the mantra. This judge will face tough times due to this ruling!
I think POTUS has made it pretty clear that everything is the white mans fault.
You raise an important point. I started out teaching in the inner city in a parochial school. At the first opportunity I got out into a suburban school. I was subjected to non-stop cursing, insults, accusations of racism and periodic threats and physical intimidation. I spent at least one to two hours daily dealing with disciplinary matters which never seemed to improve, since the school could not afford to expel anyone. Some of the students made an effort academically, but they were very ill prepared for high school level work. Most of them did almost no homework and were incapable of passing a grade-level test.
Many of these kids are in a horrid home and community environment which is hostile to education. Replacing a teacher is not going to help them nearly as much as addressing the home environment, the anti-education culture, and the social promotion practices of the lower primary grades. Kids who can't read beyond a 2nd or 3rd grade level can't succeed in high school, no matter who tries to teach them.
I cannot tell you what awful math teachers I had
Didn’t Obama kill the charter schools in DC..how can this reporter say that Obozo’s “coming around?”
Remember, don't ask for 3/4 pound of turkey when shopping.
They only do half pound or pound.
-——energize Democratic families——
Ha.... the point of being democrat is to not want to be energized. Then there is the family. There is real question that those most effected don’t really have families in the conventional sense. They are pretty much a village
I want half a pound of Baloney.
thanks, now I want half a half pound of baloney
I think you raise some good points.
However, it seems to me that teaching enthusiastic students with lots of parental support is comparatively easy. I dare say, had I had the Internet as a student, I would have learned more on my own than in a classroom setting, likely only needing periodic guidance. A good part of my K-12 education was waiting around to be spoonfed the next morsel of info, especially once I had the basics down (like by the 5th grade).
Does one really need an education degree, periodic seminars, tenure, early retirement, etc. to teach the high end students? The “work” of teaching - where we need the best and brightest dedicated creative professionals - is in the difficult kids in the bad situations.