The Vergara/Welch lawsuit isn’t about tenure. It’s about union busting and privatizing as much of the school system in the U.S. as possible. It’s about vast amounts of money, none of which would make any sense to most of us.
There are about 275,000 public school teachers in California. Not all of us should be teaching. In my 30+ years of teaching before I retired in 2010, I did run into one or two people who weren’t very good, and not just on one bad day, but consistently not very good.
In any system, public or private, that is the case. Some people really should be doing something else. It isn’t out of the ordinary.
Teachers in this state are fired all the time. Some resign before they get fired, others are let go during the probationary period, or while they are in temporary slots.
Unlike the corporate world, where an executive around the top of the food chain gets millions of dollars when they are fired, let go, not renewed, or asked to leave by the board, after they’ve failed at their positions, tanked the company, or just plain screwed up, teachers usually don’t receive anything when they are let go.
I say “usually” because there is the odd case when a district will spend some money on getting someone out of the system. It’s a relatively rare thing in the K-12 teaching ranks to leave under duress with a pocket full of money.
Back to tenure. Let’s say that for some reason all the old, burnt out, ineffective, rotten teachers, all 275,000 of them, are fired, let go, shown the gate and so on.
Let’s also say that somehow there are 275,000 bright young things, at the bottom of the pay scale, with appropriate credentials, who want to snap up all those jobs, for a beginning pay rate that isn’t enough for them to buy a house, save any money at all, makes it difficult to repay their student loans, might qualify them for food stamps, and puts a better car for getting to that job in a classroom of 30 or more children far off into the future, maybe, and which also might demand that their day doesn’t actually end when the bell rings, and that they might end up having to buy classroom supplies out of their own paychecks, and work at run down schools in dangerous neighborhoods. Let’s pretend that they are 100% perfect for these jobs, unlike the rotten creeps who were let go because the tenure laws and due process were trashed.
Everything is good now. Right? The schools have gone charter or private, unions aren’t a problem anymore, and the money guys are swooning with glee. Such a deal.
But wait, there’s more. Somehow the underlying reasons for most of the problems in the schools are still there. No one wanted to do anything about those. Teachers and tenure were such an easy target. The real stuff didn’t get fixed.
The scores haven’t skyrocketed. The problems, the poverty, segregation, hungry and abused children in rat and drug infested neighborhoods, parents in jail, absent parents, unemployed parents, psychological problems, gangs, schools in downright unsafe locations, are still there.
Children from Kindergarten through high school still show up hungry, scared, unsure what awaits them at home, if they have a home, or barely awake because they don’t sleep well in their dysfunctional family situation in their rotten part of the city or suburbs, mixed in among the more fortunate children. The deferred maintenance at the schools is still deferred.
The only thing that changed in this fantasy are the tenure rules. Nothing else.
Changing tenure and layoff rules oddly has no effect on those issues. Changing those issues isn’t something the very wealthy Silicon Valley types, the failed rookie teacher types who now know what’s best for everyone, and corporate types, want to do anything about.
Those issues are difficult, complex, and perhaps don’t have a decent return on investment (ROI). They are hard issues. Golly.
As always, assume nothing, verify everything.