News

State Supreme Court upholds California teacher tenure law

 

By DanMcMenamin | Bay City News Service

The California Supreme Court on Monday (Aug. 22) upheld the state's laws on public-school teacher tenure after a lower court found them to be unconstitutional.

The state's high court denied a petition for review of a three-judge Court of Appeal panel's decision in April to overturn the 2014 ruling by a trial judge in Los Angeles that the laws on teacher tenure, dismissal and seniority were unconstitutional.

The five laws challenged in the case were a statute that gives teachers permanent tenure after two years, three laws that provide procedural protections to teachers whom school districts are seeking to dismiss for incompetence, and one law requiring layoffs to be in the order of least seniority.

The appeals court had said attorneys for the nine students who challenged the laws hadn't proved that the laws themselves, as opposed to other factors, caused any particular group of students to receive incompetent teachers or violated the constitutional right to equal treatment.

The appeals court's ruling said ultimately it was school district administrators, not the statutes, that determined where teachers were assigned.

The ruling overturned a decision by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Rold Treu, who wrote that the laws had a "real and appreciable impact on students' right to an equal education" and disproportionately affected low-income and minority students.

The nine students' lawsuit, Vergara v. State of California was filed against state officials in 2012. It was sponsored by the Menlo Park-based group Students Matter, founded by Silicon Valley entrepreneur David Welch.

The group wrote on Twitter following the state Supreme Court decision: "The issues at the heart of #Vergara are not going away. #CASupremeCourt's decision falls short of the change CA students & teachers deserve."

The Burlingame-based California Teachers Association and Burbank-based California Federation of Teachers were allowed to join the case as parties defending the laws, which the unions said encourage veteran teachers to stay in the profession and young people to join it.

Two state Supreme Court judges wrote dissenting statements against the seven-judge court's decision to deny the petition for review.

"There is considerable evidence in the record to support the trial court's conclusion that the hiring and retention of a substantial number of grossly ineffective teachers in California public schools have an appreciable impact on students' fundamental right to education," Justice Goodwin Liu wrote.

"We owe the plaintiffs in this case, as well as schoolchildren throughout California, our transparent and reasoned judgment on whether the challenged statutes deprive a significant subset of students of their fundamental right to education and violate the constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the laws," Liu wrote.

Comments

4 people like this
Posted by Eeyore
a resident of Atherton: other
on Aug 22, 2016 at 4:14 pm

(siggghhhh). We are so scr$$%^ed living in this state.


3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 22, 2016 at 5:52 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"We are so scr$$%^ed living in this state."

yes we are


3 people like this
Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Aug 23, 2016 at 10:30 am

There is no greater or more implacable enemy of children than the teachers' union.


9 people like this
Posted by Steve Taffee
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 23, 2016 at 12:56 pm

While I am disappointed the the Supreme Court ruling, I am not cynical about the state of our schools or our teachers.

Let's recall that teacher tenure laws date back to the early 1900s when discriminatory labor practices helped ot give rise to this protection: dismissing women teachers who became pregnant or a teacher exercising free speech that ran against the local norms.

Move forward a hundred years and tenure laws remain basically unchanged. This law (and countless others) must adapt to the times. Unfair dismissal practices are (I think, I am not an attorney) provided by other statues. I think the NEA and AFT are wrong to resist tenure reform.

At the same time, teacher labor unions provide a public benefit by helping to negotiate salaries and benefits that allow teachers to live in the area in which they work. It increasingly becoming difficult for many middle-class professionals (teachers, police officers, firefighters,social workers) let alone minimum wage workers to live here.

I don't ascribe to the notion that it is impossible to fire poor teachers. Nor do I believe that unions want to protect poor teachers. Unions do (and should) want to protect due process for their members. And school administrators should dot their i's and cross their t's when dealing with poor performers, unionized or not.


12 people like this
Posted by fire all the teachers, mac!
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Aug 23, 2016 at 1:34 pm

Now, now, now. No use arguing with our libertarian friends and using all them facts-n-stuff!!!!

You will never hear them support issues that help working folk on the Peninsula or elsewhere. Have to beat up the workers. They have theirs, and just selfishly want a lower tax, a lower sale price, a cheaper made-in-China-from-slave-labor tee shirt.

ie. Libertarians.


14 people like this
Posted by Enuff
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 23, 2016 at 1:38 pm

The teachers unions have long since outlived their purpose. Now they are essentially a political funding operation, forcing members to join and pay dues, and then placing hefty support behind insider politicos who keep the union well-entrenched. One hand washes the other. The union bosses care only about money and power, not about the children.

For example, to hold onto its monopoly, the union is fighting against charter schools, which are so often better for students. And tenure, especially after only 2 years, is great for the newbie teacher, but bad news for the students.

How many mediocre or burnt-out teachers do no real teaching, just give students busy-work, because they know they have lifetime job security.


8 people like this
Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 23, 2016 at 5:47 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

Not happy here. MOVE quality education not to your licking? MOVE


4 people like this
Posted by Vrom
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 23, 2016 at 10:37 pm

Yay teachers

Gotta save at least some middle class jobs.


5 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Aug 24, 2016 at 10:14 am

VroM - right on. Best news of the week so far.


2 people like this
Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Aug 24, 2016 at 12:32 pm

> Gotta save at least some middle class jobs

My point exactly. This is a jobs program. Concern for the children? Basically last on the list.


11 people like this
Posted by fire all the teachers, mac!
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Aug 24, 2016 at 12:47 pm

"No concern for children" - supposedly the folks that support TEACHERS

"We love children" - the folk who refuse to pay for teaching children.

Yeah, makes PERFECT sense!

Only in the upside down, "me first" world of selfish libertarians.


7 people like this
Posted by Ethan
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Aug 24, 2016 at 2:25 pm

Not to worry. We addressed the union problem in other industries by offshoring the jobs. It's difficult to do that with classroom teaching, but where there's a computer there's a way. At any rate, the public is succeeding so well at denigrating the teaching profession that eventually no self-respecting young person will want to enter it. So, one way or another, the union issue should solve itself.


3 people like this
Posted by Stats
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Aug 26, 2016 at 8:21 am

@Enuff,
Surely you jest when you mention charter schools as a panacea ! We've seen what reliance on charter schools can do in places like Detroit, and Michigan in general.
Web Link
Small numbers of well-targeted charters seem to help as a supplement (example: our smaller local charter high schools) but charters cannot be a replacement. When charters are leaned upon for general usage, they produce less good results than public schools.


11 people like this
Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 26, 2016 at 8:43 am

pogo is a registered user.

In a related story, only one-third of graduating students meet math standards and less than half meet English standards.

Whatever we've been doing is sure producing results!

Web Link


5 people like this
Posted by JoeBob
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Aug 26, 2016 at 12:33 pm

Political funding is only effective with complicit politicians. In this case it is Kamala Harris who appealed the Superior Court's ruling. Teacher Union money is more important to Kamala Harris than the welfare of the poorest Californians. Let's remember that when she asks for our money and vote for her senatorial run in November.


10 people like this
Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 26, 2016 at 2:49 pm

pogo is a registered user.

True, JoeBob. But the people of California are going to elect Kamala - and every Democrat on the ballot - in overwhelming numbers again.

What was Einstein's definition of insanity?


60 people like this
Posted by middle class?
a resident of another community
on Aug 26, 2016 at 4:29 pm

"Gotta save at least some middle class jobs."

If a middle-class teacher in MPCSD married a middle-class firefighter in MPFD:

teacher salary: about $100,000 (source: Web Link )

firefighter salary: about $110,000 (source: Web Link )

Total: $210,000

And keep in mind that this does not factor in teacher tenure or teacher and firefighter pension plans and other benefits.

I'm one of those allegedly high-paid tech workers (and I'm well-paid) and my wife has a biology degree from a nearby prestigious university and has worked in biotech for years These 2 "middle-class" jobs pay better than our "upper-class" jobs and they have way better benefits.

I'm happy to see these types of jobs get paid, but lets stop the pity party for teachers and firefighters and acknowledge the fact that they make just as much as tech workers, in many many cases.



10 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 26, 2016 at 4:58 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"but lets stop the pity party for teachers and firefighters and acknowledge the fact that they make just as much as tech workers, in many many cases. "

And the teacher only works 9 months out of the year and the firefighter only works 10 days a month. And if that firefighter is like most, he either has a side job or is running a business on the side, so makes significantly more than that $110,000 annual salary. And both of them are looking a defined benefits retirement plans. The tech workers? 401k at best.


Like this comment
Posted by Exaggerated
a resident of Portola Valley: Woodside Highlands
on Aug 27, 2016 at 5:44 am

The teacher link wasn't clear on salaries.

Better source?


36 people like this
Posted by Not Exaggerated
a resident of another community
on Aug 27, 2016 at 12:00 pm

"The teacher link wasn't clear on salaries."

Well, you had to click on "Staff" then "Teacher Salary". But that said, here's an even clearer link:

Web Link

The average salary for MPCSD teachers is over $100,000...2 years ago. It's likely higher now; if I recall correctly, there was a negotiated 3% increase either last year and/or this year, so the current average is likely at a bare minimum $103k.

And as Menlo Voter pointed out, teachers have contractually mandated fewer work days than the typical tech worker. From the above link teachers have 189 "service days" and 180 teaching days. That translates into:

365 - 189 - (52*2 excluding weekends) = 72 days off / year

That's over 14 WEEKS off ( 72 days / 5 days/week = 14.4 weeks per year)


An average salary of about $104k+, with 14 weeks off/year. With a generous pension plan and tenure protection. All paid for by taxpayers.


If this is what middle class looks like, then I should give up my upper-class tech job. I want to be middle class, too!




6 people like this
Posted by Menlo Man
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 27, 2016 at 9:27 pm

Menlo Man is a registered user.

How does the Supreme Court upholding tenure laws lead to disparaging Menlo Park teachers ? The four schools in Menlo Park consistently rank in the top tenth percentile as measured by API (academic performance index) in the state of CA. Oak Knoll API = 960 , Encinal API = 930 , Laurel API = 927 , Hillview MS = 950 .

All Menlo Park schools are rated 10/10 at Web Link , and all Menlo Park schools have received CA Distinguished School Honors . How does your bitter argument of "burnt out, mediocre" teachers align with the fact that MP students excel academically?

RE: Pension .... CA teachers are required to contribute 9% of their salary to the CA STRS retirement system , yes the school district matches that .

Instead of the tired public refrain of berating teachers , why don't we look to results and statistics and see that MP teachers are obviously working their butts off to teach children . The test scores don't lie ...

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 29, 2016 at 3:13 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

The same applies to Firefighters and police officers.


5 people like this
Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 29, 2016 at 3:37 pm

pogo is a registered user.

I can't speak for others but I never condemned or complained about Menlo Park teachers. I did, however, blast CALIFORNIA educators for such pathetic results. This is not a recent phenomenon... the decline has been going on for decades.

For those of you who are so quick to blame parents, society and even nutrition for these poor results, I don't disagree that they are contributing factors. But that doesn't exonerate schools where these young minds spend most of their day. And time after time, we see charter schools outperforming non-charter schools in these same neighborhoods plagued by the same societal issues.


7 people like this
Posted by Nancy
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 29, 2016 at 9:07 pm

I don't know where you folks got the idea that the average classroom teacher's salary $100K +. I recommend you got to the Menlo Park SD salary page. Take a look at how many years a teacher must work to earn that much and take a look at how many years of additional university education they need. While you're at it, take a look at the starting salaries and compare them to the paychecks in other fields.

As for the comment that implies $100K is excessive for middle class salaries, or $200K for a couple--really, you think that is too much for all those years of education. I think techies get paid too much and get too many perks like free transportation, bonuses, subsidized lunches, free health care, subsidized or free child care centers, etc.!! Just what do techies contribute to the welfare of society--or do you think that social media sites and silly apps are more beneficial than a good education?

Perhaps you complainers would like it better if teachers had lengthy commutes to get to Menlo Park--because Menlo Park is now only for the elite who, for reasons that are beyond me, deserve million dollar+ salaries.

Now for the allegations of short work days and long vacations: the teachers I know spend evenings and weekends correcting papers and writing up and preparing lesson plans. They also give up Friday nights and Saturdays to supervise students after school games and activities.

During those long vacations, many teachers do work because they need the money to pay their bills and the exorbitant housing costs in the Bay Area. Another vacation activity is studying and researching about education and preparing for the coming school year.

Keep on teacher and union bashing, but do consider the long term consequences of your actions. I think it's amazing that there are still people who consider a teaching career given all the abuse they have to take.

(My apologies to the few good souls who are supportive of our teachers; sadly, you seem to be out-numbered.)


Like this comment
Posted by Caroline V.
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Aug 30, 2016 at 12:28 pm

Caroline V. is a registered user.

Unfortunately we did not win, but we continue to fight. I would like to share one victory:
Kathleen Caroll won her lawsuit against the CTC. Everybody needs to watch this to understand what is going on behind the scenes.
Web Link
Web Link
Web Link

It is time we stop the nepotism, the incivility, the corruption, and the bureaucratic cover up by elected and appointed officials.
It is time we stop the bullying, the gang and drug activity in our schools, the abusive conduct of teachers, faculty, staff and administrators. It is time to restore the integrity of our education system.


18 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Aug 30, 2016 at 4:17 pm

Train Fan is a registered user.

Nancy, a resident of Menlo Park: other, wrote:
"I don't know where you folks got the idea that the average classroom teacher's salary $100K +."

From ed-data. Here's the link...again... Web Link

MPCSD teacher average salaries are indisputably above $100,000/year.


"Take a look at how many years a teacher must work to earn that much"

Many tech people put in "many years" to get to the earnings you rail against.


"take a look at how many years of additional university education they need."

Many tech people have been in the industry for 10-20+ years, and the rate of change absolutely forces you to constantly train and learn; otherwise you're quickly obsolete and unemployable. Much of the technical expertise of 20 years ago is barely relevant now. Years of training are not exclusive to teachers.


"take a look at the starting salaries"

The lowest teacher salary at MPCSD 2 years ago was $58,207, with 14+ weeks off/year. Normalizing that salary to a typical job with 3-weeks paid vacation, that's $75056.39/year (58,207/(52-14)*49)

For comparison, the per capita income in the past 12 months (in 2014 dollars) in San Mateo County, 2010-2014: $47,198 (source: census.gov). The lowest-paid MPCSD teacher makes almost $28,000/year more than the per-capita for the county.


"As for the comment that implies $100K is excessive"

I did not imply it's excessive; you inferred it.

My point was that:
1: The tired public refrain of teachers being underpaid may be applicable in other districts, but definitely not MPCSD.

2: The MPCSD combination of salary, vacation and benefits is competitive, and in many cases superior, with many of the common salaries of tech workers. I find it a bit ironic you rail against tech pay when the MPCSD combination of salary, vacation and benefits is superior to the typical tech worker's combination of salary, vacation and benefits.


"really, you think that is too much"

I do not think that is too much. I think they deserve good compensation. My point is, they ARE. So please, lets stop the pity party for teachers and firefighters and acknowledge the fact that they make just as much or more than tech workers in many many cases.


"Now for the allegations of short work days"

Nobody alleged that teachers have short work days.


"and long vacations"

MPCSD get over 14+ weeks off/year. The typical worker...tech and non-tech alike...gets about 2-3 weeks off/year.

That's not an allegation, that's a statement of fact. Good for them! But it should be kept in mind as part of their compensation: normalizing that average income of $100,890 to a typical job(3 weeks vacation) yields a salary of over $130k/year.


"the exorbitant housing costs in the Bay Area"

Welcome to the real world.


"vacation activity is studying and researching"

Welcome to the tech world.


"Keep on teacher and union bashing"

I don't agree with the teacher bashing, at least regarding MPCSD.

But bashing the union...it depends on the issue whether it's bash-worthy or not.


"I think it's amazing that there are still people who consider a teaching career"

Why WOULDN'T someone want to be a teacher at MPCSD? Good pay, 14+ weeks off, good benefits, fantastic retirement package.


24 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Aug 30, 2016 at 4:33 pm

Train Fan is a registered user.

Oh, and about this...

> free transportation

Well, the purpose there is to reduce the # of cars on the road. I assume you agree there is a shared benefit from these companies getting cars off the road.


> bonuses

I have worked at over a dozen tech companies over the years, and the number of them that gave me a bonus? 1. The bonuses exist, but are less frequent than you'd like to believe.


> subsidized lunches

This is rarer than the press would like you to believe, but yes that does exist at some companies.


> free health care,

Really? I've never heard of this. Do you have an example?


> subsidized or free child care centers, etc.

That maybe true but I'm not aware of an example. Do you have an example of a "tech" company offering child care centers for free? I'd also welcome examples of tech companies that offered subsidized child care.


I eagerly await your examples.


42 people like this
Posted by Benefits
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 30, 2016 at 6:05 pm

I think Train Fan is underselling the benefits in teacher compensation. There's a lot of focus on tech worker perks, but teacher perks are way better. No tech worker has the following benefits:

1) Tenure after two years

Basically, it's impossible for a teacher to be fired after two years. Don't believe me? See how hard the Woodside district has been trying to fire one of its teachers.
Web Link

2) Constitutionally guaranteed pension and retiree health care benefits

3) Retirement benefits that can start as early as age 50

Teaching has a lot of compensation and benefit downside protection. The tech industry has no such floor.


4 people like this
Posted by not happy
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Aug 31, 2016 at 7:35 pm

I want to see that teachers are paid well, but they sure don't do themselves any favors in getting my support when they insist on ridiculous things like lifetime tenure after only two years on the job. Here in our own community, the teacher's union is trying to jam us by putting their own representative on the MPCSD school board when they are already among the highest paid teachers in the entire state.


12 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 31, 2016 at 8:30 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"the teacher's union is trying to jam us by putting their own representative on the MPCSD school board"

And who is that?


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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