Last week’s California superior court decision, which struck down teacher tenure law in California public schools, is good news for everyone worried about America’s future.
The decision, finding these provisions unconstitutional and discriminatory against low-income and minority students, was even applauded by Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
With the success of this lawsuit, similar suits can be anticipated around the country.
Everyone, except the teachers unions, seems to grasp that public education in America, particularly in low-income communities, suffers because of lack of competition.
The lawsuit, filed by 9 California public school students, was backed by a non-profit organization, Students Matter, founded by Silicon Valley entrepreneur David Welch.
Under existing law, teachers in California public schools are tenured within 2 years.
According to testimony of Los Angeles School Superintendent John Deasy, it takes two years on average, and sometimes as long as ten years, to fire a teacher with tenure, with costs running as high as $450,000.
The overall high school graduation rate in the Los Angeles Unified School District is 67.9 percent, compared to over 80 percent nationwide. Latinos in the LA system have a graduation rate of 67.2 percent and blacks 63.9 percent.
The reaction from the California teachers unions was predictably self serving and disingenuous.
Californian Federation of Teachers President Joshua Pechthalt called the case “an anti-teacher campaign funded by wealthy individuals trying to twist education policy with their wallets….Promoted by a law firm best known for protecting corporations against environmental and workers rights litigation.”
One of the lead attorneys for the law firm representing the students, Ted Olson of Gibson, Dunn, and Crutcher, was also lead co-counsel in the lawsuit in California challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 8, which defined marriage in California’s state constitution as one man and one woman. The California Teachers Association poured one million dollars into the battle fighting Proposition 8.
Regarding “wealthy individuals trying to twist education policy”, what exactly does the teachers union president think that Mr. Welch cares about beyond what the name of his organization says – Students Matter?
The high-tech culture of Silicon Valley is about competition and innovation. It’s why hi-tech entrepreneurs have understood the perversity that America’s school system- where our nation’s future is formed - lacks these very characteristics that make America great.