Reaction to Teacher Tenure Ruling Deeply Divided

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In a room with Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and his wife Michelle Rhee talking education reform, it was a San Jose middle schooler Daniela Martinez getting the star treatment.

Martinez is one of the plaintiffs in a case that overturned teacher tenure laws in the State of California.

“We will appeal. As will the State of California. And we are very confident that in an appellate court we will prevail,” California Teachers Association spokesperson Claudia Briggs said.


File photo

As it stands, the court’s ruling would mean teachers have to wait longer before they are given permanent positions. And it would also change what “permanent” means- making teachers easier to fire if their principals or superintendents don’t think they’re doing a good job, and basing layoffs on efficacy not seniority.

“The group of people most intolerant of ineffective teachers are effective teachers. It drives effective teachers crazy when they’re doing a great job every day in the classroom and they’ve got somebody next door not pulling their weight,” Rhee said.

In her time running the school district in the District of Columbia, Rhee garnered a national reputation for her opposition to the seniority system.

Still rulings like this one will likely lead to less money overall being spent on teachers in California. That opens it up to the criticism that it’s a move to weaken unions, and strengthen profits for those in the education business- like charters schools.

“I think it’s incredibly insulting to the families were involved in this court case,” Rhee said. “You say to them that somebody is using them as a puppet, that they don’t know any better, I think that’s incredibly insulting to those families. They know exactly why they got into this.”

The Martinez family was unavailable for comment after tonight’s forum.

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