By Thomas Himes, Los Angeles Daily News | http://bit.ly/1ixpbB9
LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy wants to create a coalition that will rewrite teacher tenure laws. (File photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)
6/11/14, 9:13 PM PDT | UPDATED: 6/13/14 :: The chief administrator of California’s largest school system Tuesday called on the state’s governor, attorney general and superintendent of schools to come together and draft new constitutional laws on teacher tenure.
Tuesday’s Los Angeles Superior Court ruling, which calls current laws making it difficult to fire incompetent teachers unconstitutional, hasn’t changed anything for the time being, as the ruling was stayed pending an appeal, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy said.
But Deasy said he’ll ask Gov. Jerry Brown, Attorney General Kamala Harris, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and teachers unions to join him in a coalition that would rewrite tenure laws.
“Then if the laws are put in place and a judge deems them to be constitutional, then things would change,” Deasy said.
The Vergara v. California case was brought by Beatriz Vergara and eight other students who said they were saddled with teachers who let classrooms get out of control, came to school unprepared and in some cases told them they’d never make anything of themselves.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu cited the landmark ruling in Brown v. Board of Education in his decision that all students are entitled to equal education and said the current situation discriminates against minority and low-income students by putting ineffective teachers in their schools.
Deasy said the laws need to be rewritten to increase the time it takes teachers to earn tenure and allow administrators to lay off teachers based on performance rather than their time on the job.
“When students have an ineffective teacher, it does irreparable damage,” he said.
Currently, administrators have to decide whether to give teachers tenure after one year and three months of work. At that point, Deasy said, new educators are still in professional development.
Rules that require administrators to lay off newest employees first without even considering their performance, Deasy said, not only limit the ability of administrators, but are disrespectful of teachers.
“It make no sense whatsoever that if we want to represent and honor the profession that we wouldn’t include how well the teacher does as evidence in the decision,” Deasy said. “Instead you look at the day and hour they’re hired, and that’s how you let teachers go.”
“I couldn’t think of anything more disrespectful,” he said.
A spokeswoman for Torlakson’s office said it was still reviewing the ruling and it would be premature to comment about an appeal or writing new legislation. A spokesman for the Governor’s Office, Evan Westrup, also said the decision is under review and did not comment further.
Harris’ press office said it would be up to Brown and Torlakson to decide where to go from here.
Alex Caputo Pearl, president-elect of United Teachers Los Angeles said his union “absolutely supports” an appeal rather than seek new legislation.
“It’s very premature for the superintendent to be moving in a direction like that,” he said.
Stripping tenure laws, he said, would harm teachers and students alike. Educators, he said, need support from experienced administrators, not the fear of being fired for arbitrary reasons.
“What educators need is a supportive environment to actually develop in, and this means having well-trained administrators, and getting support from folks like mentor teachers,” Caputo-Pearl said.
Teachers, Caputo-Pearl said, are a student’s greatest advocate, but that would stop if the laws are stripped, “because teachers won’t have due process rights, so they’re not going to stick their necks out, and that’s going to hurt students.”
In 2006, Caputo-Pearl said, the district’s former superintendent transferred him out of Crenshaw High School, because he organized parents and community members in a successful effort that “shook some money out of the district” and secured resources for students.
“I would have never been able to get back to Crenshaw High School without due process rights,” Caputo-Pearl said. “When I returned, I continued building what would become a nationally recognized curriculum and instruction model.”
Without the protections, Caputo-Pearl said, LAUSD stands to lose some of its best teachers. Those educators, he said, are experienced teachers and independent thinkers who tend to butt heads with administrators.
“If you’re in an environment with less due process rights, some of those educators are going to be out the door, because the administrator wants more compliant teachers,” Caputo-Pearl said.
But, Deasy said, there are other state and federal laws in place that protect employees from wrongful termination.
“I think it’s a bit of a red herring to be talking about something that is already protected,” Deasy said.
He has created a crisis by encouraging a billionaire to sue the state in the name of eight schoolchildren. A single judge has bought Dr. Deasy and his billionaire friend’s argument - and victory over the California Ed Code and the Business and Professions Code – and the California Federation of Teachers and the California Teachers Association - is declared. In the spirit of magnanimity the good doctor invites the Governor, Attorney General and The Superintendent of Public Instruction to join with him to change the law. The teachers unions are welcome to join them.
There is room for modification of tenure in California… but what we have here is a failure of Civics Education!
Ours is a government of checks and balances.
There are three branches of government. Executive. Legislative. Judicial.
The Executive runs things.
The Legislative makes law and policy.
The Judicial runs the courts and occasionally interprets law and policy.
Lest anyone forget, the Governor, AG and the SPI (from the Executive) were plaintiffs in the Vergara suit; they were (and still are) being sued by Deasy+Co. The teacher’s unions were volunteer parties to the litigation in support of the plaintiffs.
Lest Dr. Deasy forget, both sides in the Vergara lawsuit - petitioners and plaintiffs - promised to fight this to the bitter end on appeal no matter what this judge decided. If Dr. D’s side had nor prevailed in Tuesday this would just be a minor setback on the road to victory.
There is the Superior Court, the first step in the judicial process. We are here.
There is the Court of Appeal, the second step in the judicial process
There is the State Supreme Court, the third and final step in the judicial process. Ultimately it is they who will decide the case based on the merits and the judicial record established in the first two rounds.
Here is what they certainly don’t teach at the Broad Superintendent’s Academy, of which Dr. Deasy is a graduate – and apparently don’t teach at Loyola Law School – where Dr. Deasy is reputedly+currently a student:
It goes like this: Superintendents are administrators (as it says in the article: “The chief administrator of California’s largest school system…”) – superintendents are the chief operating officers of school districts on a day-to-day basis.
Boards of Education are elected to make and interpret policy; their authority is magisterial. Superintendents are appointed to implement that policy and serve at the pleasure of boards of ed.
Governors and Attorneys General and Superintendents of Public Instruction are administrators; they are the chief executives of State Government, the state Department of Justice and the state Department of Education. They do not make law or change or interpret existing law. As elected officials they do have a role in making policy – but Law is made+written by the state legislature.
If Dr. Deasy wants to write-or-rewrite law he should run for the assembly or the state senate. Good luck with that.