by Rep. George Miller in Time Magazine | http://ti.me/11jg45f
This is one part of a series of readers’ responses to this week’s cover.
Oct. 27, 2014 | TIME :: I strongly support Judge Treu’s decision in the Vergara case and found Time’s story about teacher tenure and dismissal policies generally informative and balanced. But the headline and cover art – “Rotten Apples,” 11/3/2014 – is grossly unfair to teachers and further polarizes an issue we must resolve. As someone who has been trying for years to bridge the divide in the education debate, I know as well as anyone that hyperbole only serves to continue to deny poor and minority children a better education. All parties in this debate, whether Time, the teacher unions, or the reformers, must drop the rhetoric and focus on the kids.
The fact is, California schools desperately need to improve. We cannot keep doing the same thing and expect different results. It is important to note that no other state in the country uses the confluence of laws challenged in Vergara in the way California does. Additionally, the case would not have been brought nor would the plaintiffs have prevailed if poor and minority students were achieving at high levels.
However, my home state can have a system that guarantees all students equal access to effective teachers if we get students and teachers the supports they need to learn and teach effectively and if we make reasonable and necessary changes to California’s tenure and dismissal policies to make them fairer to all involved. Vergara should be seen by all stakeholders in the state as an opportunity to move teaching further into a modern profession – not as a reason to dig in and cling to the past.
Calling teachers ‘Rotten Apples’ is grossly unfair and only serves to hurt the children who need effective teachers on their side. Now, for the good of students in California and education as a whole, we should drop the hyperbole and not let the inappropriate cover of Time detract from the critical issues Vergara highlighted and the barriers to equity it challenged.