Myths about Due Process Current misconceptions regarding the law have created several myths about tenure, popularly held, but all false. Paramount among these are: MYTH #1: “There is a tenure law in California for K-14.” The truth is, California dismissal law doesn’t refer to tenure. The concept of tenure as it developed in the medieval …View full post
State schools chief race may reverberate beyond California Tom Torlakson and Marshall Tuck Rich Pedroncelli Superintendent of Public Education Tom Torlakson (left), who is seeking reelection, and former charter schools executive, Marshall Tuck (right), are both running for State Superintendent. (Rich Pedroncelli) By Seema Mehta contact the reporter State schools superintendent election result could reverberate …View full post
Myths about Due Process
Current misconceptions regarding the law have created several myths about tenure, popularly held, but all false. Paramount among these are:
MYTH #1: “There is a tenure law in California for K-14.”
The truth is, California dismissal law doesn’t refer to tenure. The concept of tenure as it developed in the medieval university has no connection with current practice, which provides only dismissal procedures guaranteeing due process rights and pertinent reasons for dismissal actions. Tenure has become a popular term used as a scapegoat for the real problems, which are ineffective evaluation of instruction, poor administrative practices, and inadequate investment by the public schools in experimentation, research and development, and in-service education.
MYTH #2: “Tenure is a lifetime guarantee of employment.”
The truth is that teachers have permanent status, not tenure. Within permanent status there is a procedure for dismissing teachers which guarantees due process and impartial consideration of the facts when disagreement about the facts exists.
MYTH #3: “You can’t fire a tenured teacher in California.”
The truth is that teachers are fired every year under the dismissal laws in California. In addition, when difficulties in dismissing teachers arise under the law, it is inadequate application of the law by administrators, and not the law itself, that is at fault.
MYTH #4: “Tenure is designed to protect teachers.”
The truth is that due process was developed and exists primarily to protect pupils and schools from political, social and economic interference with pupils’ right to a continuing program of quality education. The major function of due process is to insist that decisions about the quality of instruction in the schools be based on educational reasons, rather than on prejudicial or inappropriate selfish reasons.
MYTH #5: “Tenure protects the incompetent teacher.”
The truth is that California Teachers Association policy for many years has insisted that “Evaluation Is the Key to Excellence.” Where sound evaluation practices exists, it is the teacher whose inadequacies are identified and who is most affected by the need to improve, or in the absence of improvement, will be dismissed under due process provisions. Therefore, due process is a mechanism for evaluation of instruction which exposes rather than protects incompetence.
MYTH #6: “A good teacher doesn’t need tenure.”
The truth is that teachers who perform satisfactorily need the protection of due process and it is the competent teacher who is most needed to maintain and improve the quality of education for pupils. Every educational employee is entitled to due process. The broad spectrum of instructional practices require that differing methodologies require equal protection guaranteed under California laws. The competent teacher needs the due process laws!
From CTA’s “Evaluation: Key to Excellence” (2005)
State schools chief race may reverberate beyond California
The race to be California’s schools chief is typically sleepy: Incumbents have little power but usually waltz to reelection.
This year’s contest, however, is one of the tightest and costliest on the statewide ballot, the reflection of an emerging fault line in the Democratic Party over education policy.
Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson is in the fight of his life against upstart challenger and fellow Democrat Marshall Tuck.
The battle has drawn national attention, along with millions of dollars from traditionalist teachers unions on one side and from those who want to wholly overhaul the way schools are run on the other.
The result could reverberate far beyond California.
“The politics and the symbolism are tremendous, both for the [unions and] the reformers,” said Dan Schnur, executive director of USC’s Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics. “Whichever side wins this relatively low-profile office gets a huge leg up in the broader debate over education policy.”
Torlakson, a former teacher and state legislator, was elected to the nonpartisan superintendent post in 2010. Seeking a second term, he points to his work helping schools weather the recession, pushing the state’s high school graduation rate to a record high and pressing for historic funding increases and more local control of the money.
“I’m a teacher, I have that in my genes,” the silver-haired incumbent said in a recent interview. “I love the work I’m doing. It’s the toughest work I’ve ever done. We’re going to work hard to keep improving things. We know there’s a lot of work to do and we know that it’s not a time to take a risk on the unknown.”
Torlakson questions Tuck’s motives, calling him an investment banker with no classroom experience who is backed by wealthy donors, including some who favor vouchers and for-profit charter schools.
Those experiences showed him how shackled schools are by state bureaucracy, he said, and how to improve the lowest-performing, most violent schools in the city.
“If you’re happy with California public schools, vote for the incumbent and vote for the status quo,” Tuck said in an interview. “If you think our kids can do better and we need major change in our schools, vote for someone who’s actually delivered that.”
Tuck was not expected to have a chance in the race. The last incumbent state superintendent who sought a second term — Jack O’Connell in 2006 — received more than 50% of the vote in the primary, winning reelection and avoiding a runoff.
A recent survey by the Field Poll showed the race between Torlakson and Tuck was a statistical tie — the closest statewide contest this fall.
“Most education policy insiders didn’t expect it to get this close,” said Hilary McLean, an education consultant who worked for O’Connell.
Several factors altered that calculation. The Democratic Party, long aligned with teachers unions, is experiencing an internal debate about teacher tenure, seniority, evaluation and dismissal policies that unions fear could undermine their members.
Additionally, the top of the statewide ticket lacks excitement — there is no billionaire or global celebrity on the ballot, and Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to easily win reelection.
The lack of buzz elsewhere, coupled with a high-stakes court decision over the summer, paved the way for heightened attention on the superintendent race.
In June, a Los Angeles judge ruled that some teacher tenure rules violated the equal education rights of the state’s poor and minority children by disproportionately saddling them with inadequate instructors.
Tuck hailed the ruling as a victory for students in chronically underperforming schools, while Torlakson appealed the decision; state teachers unions also appealed.
“I’m tired of the blame game,” Torlakson said, arguing that tools exist for eliminating poor instructors and that the ruling infringes upon teachers’ due-process rights. “Teachers are the solution, not the problem.”
Tuck, for his part, vows that if elected his first act will be to withdraw the court appeal.
“When we have students that have to file lawsuits to get a quality education, and the people who are elected to lead and fight for students are actually fighting against students in court, that’s when you know you need fundamental change,” Tuck said at a recent news conference, where he was flanked by some of the families that filed the lawsuit.
The divergent views have prompted major donors to go all in. The candidates entered the final weeks of the campaign with less than $200,000 in their respective bank accounts. But separate efforts launched to help prop up their campaigns involve millions.
Torlakson has the backing of the California Teachers Assn., arguably the most powerful interest in Sacramento. A group formed by the union has raised $2.6 million to tout him.
The union is also spending more than $3 million on “issue advocacy” ads that do not explicitly urge people to vote for Torlakson but paint him in a flattering light.
CTA president Dean E. Vogel said the union wants Torlakson reelected because of his track record: advocating for the temporary tax increases voters passed two years ago that raised school funding; eliminating outdated testing systems; and appealing the tenure ruling.
“Torlakson has been there in the trenches,” Vogel said. “On the other hand, you’ve got Marshall Tuck, who’s got relatively no experience in these issues….He hasn’t been a teacher, he hasn’t been actively engaged.”
Vogel said most troubling were the wealthy individuals who are backing Tuck, among them people who promote privatization of public schools.
In the last three weeks, a group supporting Tuck has raised more than $8 million. Donors include Manhattan Beach businessman William Bloomfield, who gave $2 million; Los Angeles entrepreneur Eli Broad, who gave $1 million; and Doris Fisher, co-founder of The Gap, who contributed $950,000.
Tuck said he doesn’t agree with some of his supporters’ stances — for example, he opposes school vouchers — but he was proud to have support from those with diverse viewpoints.
“The fact that you have some people who have a lot of money who want to improve schools, to me, is a good thing,” he said. “There are a lot of people who have a lot of money who aren’t spending a second thinking about other people’s kids.”
Teacher association dishes out school supplies, books
All it took to enter the Continentals of Omega Boys & Girls Club gym Monday afternoon was a golden ticket.
Well, it wasn’t a ticket, just a golden piece of paper.
By 4:30 p.m. well over 100 Vallejo City Unified School District children had stopped by to pick up free school supplies during the “Helping Hands School Supply Outreach” hosted by the Vallejo Education Association.
“It’s great for the kids,” said A.J. Brock as he and his wife, Araceli, stopped by the event with their three children.
A.J. Brock said that he was impressed with the free book each child was able to pick out.
“The books will help kids learn about the fundamentals to reading,” he said.
The event, while helping with school supplies, also helped the family learn about the Continentals of Omega Boys & Girls Club, according to Araceli Brock.
“We came in the wrong way (into the building) and we had no idea about the club but it’s a good program,” she said, gesturing to a Continentals of Omega Boys & Girls Club packet held by her husband. “We were even given a tour.”
“It’s our way of giving back to the community,” said association president Sheila Gradwohl. “It shows that our teachers are part of the Vallejo community.”
Gradwohl said this was the sixth year the Vallejo Education Association had given away school supplies like paper, pencils, pens, highlighters and crayons.
VEA has ratified the 2013-2014 VCUSD-VEA Contract with an 87% approval.
The VEA Bargaining Team met with the District on Thursday, April 17, 2014. We have signed a tentative agreement for a partial restoration of wages, as well as changes to our evaluation article that are consistent with the forms currently being used. A final draft will be approved Thursday, April 24. We will be scheduling informational meetings in the weeks ahead before we bring the tentative agreement for ratification by members. School sites will receive copies of the tentative agreement, before the meetings, for review. Both parties have agreed to continue bargaining on any sunshined proposals that will not be ready for ratification by the end of this school year.
The 2014-15 and 2015-16 calendars were ratified with a 94% approval rating.
Congratulations to the following VEA members who will be representing Vallejo at the NEA Representative Assembly in Denver, Colorado this summer: