The 2010 documentary ‘Waiting For Superman’ analyzed the American public school system, focusing on its failures in an attempt to foster a discussion about possible reform. One of the major issues highlighted in the film was the difficulties involved with firing a teacher that has already achieved tenure.
Although ‘Waiting For Superman’ has largely faded from public consciousness in the years since its release, a group of Southern California students are now fighting their own battle against tenure in the courts.
The students have gone to trial in order to call into question a variety of job protections currently afforded to teachers. According to the New York Times, California teachers can be granted permanent employment status after working for 18 months. The process of firing a teacher after he or she has achieved such status is lengthy and difficult.
The students are suing on the basis that the current employment laws reduce the effectiveness of teachers. The case also includes a civil rights component, claiming that poor and minority students are unfairly given lower-quality teachers.
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The trial has already seen Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John E. Deasy called to the stand. Deasy testified his aversion to tenure rules.
“I absolutely do not believe it’s in the best interest of students whatsoever. The decision about who should be in front of students should be the most effective teacher. These statutes prohibit that from being a consideration at all. By virtue of that, it cannot be good for students,” Deasy said.
Teachers unions, on the other hand, staunchly oppose any change to the current job protection laws. Unions typically argue that teachers could be unfairly laid-off if a new system that ignores tenure laws is put into place.
According to the L.A. Times, California has some of the most generous laws regarding job protections for teachers. Still, this trial’s outcome could have broad implications in regards to public education reform across the country.