When we returned I started reading more of the news than I had for the previous month. I was pleasantly surprised to see an article in the newspaper featuring a recent decision regarding the Vergara teacher tenure case that made headlines two years ago when Judge Treu of the LA County Superior Court struck down the California tenure laws as unconstitutional. As was promised, there was a long legal battle and other lawsuits cropped up along the way.
The main gripe folks in California had was that teacher tenure was retaining low-quality teachers and so was unconstitutional due to every child's right to a high-quality education. Personally, I find this article quite fatuous because it leaves out a very important consequence of having these laws: high-quality teachers want to stay in the profession. While I haven't read the entire paper, a graduate of Duke University named Dana Fenster spent two years as a Teach For America corps member after writing about the benefits of high-quality teacher retention under a tenure system. When teachers feel like they have more protection they are willing to experiment with their craft, usually leading to better results. Of course, not all teachers are made to teach longterm, but by focusing on the low-quality ones Judge Treu was forgetting how retention is often a better focus.
Back in April of this year a California appeals court actually ruled against what Judge Treu said and reversed the lower courts decision, allowing teacher tenure to stand. This was obviously a happy day for members of teachers unions across the country. As a teacher about to apply for tenure myself I was happy to read about it last school year.
Finally, the California Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the appeals court ruling will stand. Translation: teacher tenure in CA is here to stay.
Of course there will be more lawsuits and concerns in the future but for the moment I am happy to report that my welcome-back present was one that will benefit millions of students across the state and most likely the country.