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The decision by a California judge and teacher unions

Updated on June 14, 2014

First I want to say outright that unions have served their members well in the past and may do so again in the future but union membership is down across the country and it involves many reasons. Recently a California judge made a historic decision regarding tenure of teachers and their union. The decision involves rejecting the protected status of teachers once they meet a level of membership usually eighteen months to two years. After that teachers were put in a protected status in that they could not be fired without going through a costly process which could take between two and ten years to accomplish. The judge stated among other things the practice was unconstitutional.

We know there are good and bad teachers in our educational system and it should not be cumbersome to get rid of teachers who do not measure up to the standards students need to succeed in the future. While I agree that there should be some guidelines for firing any teacher government should not impose such restrictions that if forces educational institutions to keep bad teachers if they do not have the funds to get rid of them.

I would also like to say that the teaching profession is one which I highly respect and regardless if a union is involved good teachers should be rewarded and bad teachers should be removed from the institution. Individuals who belong to any union seem to have a protective status making it difficult to remove or fire anyone. Today unions provide financial support for candidates who agree with their principles and we all know money sometimes talks.

The impact and membership of unions is not what it once was and state and federal governments need to realize this fact and remove restrictions to firing poor teachers. The goal of any government should be to provide a quality education for the leaders of tomorrow. Students deserve to have the best teachers money can buy. Teachers are on the frontline to prepare students for society. Having the right attitude and capability to teach the subjects they are assigned is keys to the educational success of students.

The basis for the ruling involves three California statutes which are identified below:

  1. Permanent Employment Statute 44929.21, (b),
  2. 44934 and 44938 (b) (1) and (2) and 44944 collectively “Dismissal Statutes”) and
  3. 44955 (“Last-in-First Out”).

The judge in making this decision which is being appealed by the teachers union and the state is evaluating the decision will shake up our education system across the country. The character of the decision according to the information was that the judge did not consider the political aspects of the case. The judge in his decision cited the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of the State of California and the common law.

Court decisions often interject the opinions of judges as we have seen in many cases reported in the news. The principle involved in this case is one which all courts should take to heart when making decisions. Cases brought before a judge and/or a jury is often controversial. All cases should be based on the facts in the case and the legal requirements associated with it. They should not be based on the political aspects and impact a decision can have. Controversial cases seem to get more widely covered in the media regardless of the decision (s) made. Many controversial cases can and have set precedents in future cases. It is likely given the decision by the California judge that other cases may be forthcoming in other school districts across the country.

Regardless of where or who they are teaching a quality education is needed across the board so all individuals have an equal opportunity to succeed when they enter society. While education is not specifically addressed in the in the United States Constitution but it is addressed in every state Constitution as it should be. The decision could pave the way for landmark changes in the way teachers are hired and fired in school districts across the country. Ineffective teachers anywhere affect the in-school education experience. There are many effective and successful teachers in our school systems across the country and many are rightfully recognized for their efforts.

The quality of our education system is a critical aspect to prepare the leaders of tomorrow and teachers are an integral part of the process. The quality of the teachers and the methods they utilized impacts student success. In addition if a teacher is assigned to teach a subject in which they have no experience or their degree is not associated with it their effectiveness is greatly impacted. Teachers should only be assigned to subjects in which their degree applies and if they are assigned such subjects they need to be provided the education by the school system to enhance their success. The school system and the students within it would have greater success in preparing the leaders of tomorrow. If the school system does not provide this support function it is the fault of the system not the teacher. School systems need to be held accountable in providing a quality education along with quality teachers.


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