Teaching and Tenure

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu ruled that California K – 12 school tenure laws are unconstitutional because they compromise student rights to a quality education by protecting incompetent teachers.

The tenure system is a holdover from an era when public school teachers were almost all women and could be fired for many petty procedures and personality relationships that had nothing to do with their teaching competence. Tenure laws were passed to protect teachers from such personal vendettas and from meddling parents trying to dictate what is taught in classrooms.

As an elementary, middle, and high school principal and district director of education, I have learned that good teachers have long been aggravated by the poor performance of others in the profession—especially incompetent, unprepared, or disengaged teachers who cannot manage their classrooms.

However, I also know from my own experiences that some very competent teachers are still dismissed or transferred because of personality conflicts—such as administrators’ disliking teachers—rather than for poor performance.

Although I take no position regarding overturning tenure laws, I do believe that some justifiable procedures need to be implemented that could make it easier to remove poor teachers AND that are not based on standardized tests that are invalid, unreliable, and totally unjustifiable for assessing teaching.