BATON ROUGE, La. – Suddenly the shoe is on the other foot and teachers union leaders don’t like it very much.
For decades schools across the nation have been stuck with a system that routinely grants tenure to K-12 teachers after a few years of service. And of course tenured teachers have a great deal of job security.
So over the years school administrators have been forced to choose between several bad options when tenured teachers stop producing positive results in the classroom.
The first was to keep the bad teachers and subject students to sub-par instruction. That happens far too often.
The second was to pay a six-figure legal fee and go through the termination process, but run the risk that a union-friendly arbitrator will reinstate the teacher. Attorneys don’t refund their hefty fees when they lose cases.
The third was to strike a deal with the teachers and their union, offering financial settlements and quite frequently letters of recommendation they clearly don’t deserve, to convince them to resign.
None of those options were healthy for the students of America. That’s why so many states have passed tenure reform laws in recent years, making it easier and less expensive to remove bad teachers.
The Louisiana Federation of Teachers has been challenging that state’s new tenure reform law in court, reports TheAdvocate.com. The union scored an early victory in May when a District Court judge ruled the statute unconstitutional because it “illegally included multiple subjects in a single bill.”
But the state Supreme Court vacated that ruling shortly thereafter and sent the case back to the District Court, where arguments are expected to be heard again soon. In the meantime the teachers union plans to again ask the District Court judge to toss out the law on several new grounds.
Those grounds are the following – school superintendents are free to fire teachers before a hearing is held, the post-termination hearing panel is “weighted against teachers,” and the panel is purely advisory, anyway,
“The other thing that is happening is that people are making decisions to resign rather than to go through a process like this,” LFT President Steve Monaghan was quoted as saying.
Really? That’s sort of like superintendents felt all those years when they were forced to keep bad teachers on staff because their districts lacked the money to engage in a legal battle to fire them.
It’s the same way New York City school administrators feel right now when they try to fire teachers for sex offenses, only to have them reinstated by mediators who are chosen jointly by the school district and teachers union. Those mediators know they must give the union its share of victories if they want to remain employed.
The bottom line is that public education exists for the benefit of children, period. Bad teachers have no place in schools and deserve no protection. School administrators are hired by elected school boards to determine good teachers from bad, and should have the power to move the bad ones out the door.
Tenure was a bad deal for students and parents from the beginning. The courts should defend efforts to fix this harmful system before more children are denied quality instruction.