Teacher tenure ruled unconstitutional in California
A Los Angeles judge ruled that teacher tenure violates students' rights to education, a ruling that could impact cities like Philadelphia with powerful teachers' unions.
In a ruling that could affect the future of education, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge concluded on Tuesday that teacher tenure laws run counter to students' constitutional rights to an education, the New York Times initially reported. The ruling could have implications for teachers' unions across the country, and will dismantle California efforts to limit the hiring and firing of educators.
Opening his decision with a reference to Brown v. Board of Education, Judge Rolf Treu wrote that the evidence presented in the California case shows that "poor and/or minority students" are disproportionately affected by teacher tenure laws that make it difficult to remove low-performing teachers from schools serving economically disadvantaged students.
Advocates for teachers' unions argue that educators need protections and efforts targeting teachers distract from larger socioeconomic inequalities that undermine a student's constitutional right to an education.
The ruling could be appealed to the state's Supreme Court.
Students' rights in Philadelphia
Pennsylvania teachers are granted tenure after three successful years in a classroom, a process that some criticize as 'automatic' with little assessment. In Philadelphia, tenured teachers are observed once a year and twice a year for three years if rated unsatisfactory.
Schools across the state have undergone mass layoffs and program cuts due to a decrease in state funding. Teachers' unions have argued that low student performance on standardized tests is due to a number of factors outside of a teacher's control, like a lack of resources in the classroom, student well-being outside of school and even the effectiveness of a test.
Yesterday, hundreds of activists from the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, the Philadelphia Student Union and other organizations blocked 17th Street outside of the Comcast building in protest of education cuts under Governor Tom Corbett. After refusing to move off the street, six were arrested.
More education advocates protested funding cuts on Tuesday in Harrisburg.
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