On Teacher Tenure

I have been engaged in the world of teaching for over fifty years. It was about seventy years ago when American teachers finally got the right to have protection by passage of laws that guaranteed tenure. Tenure rights simply meant that Boards of Education or administrators could not arbitrarily fire a teacher because they disagreed with his views. During the nightmare of Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s when teachers who taught controversial ideas such as that people were innocent until proven guilty, dozens of teachers in America were protected by right wing assaults. Tenure is the only real protection for teachers who are controversial. It was never meant to be a protection against failing to fire incompetent teachers.

Los Angeles Superior Court Justice Rolf Treu has ruled that tenure is unconstitutional because it prevents firing incompetent teachers and thus puts at risk the right of students to be taught by competent teachers. This is ridiculous. Any teacher during his initial three years can be fired for incompetence. The problem is NOT tenure, it is the incompetence of school administrators to supervise teachers and fire those who fail to do their job of teaching. As a Department Chairperson in a high school, I fired incompetent teachers.

To end tenure is to take away the only legal right possessed by teachers to speak freely in the classroom. This means a science teacher who teaches evolution can now be fired by right wing nut cases! Justice Treu has provided creation minded ignorant people with a weapon to end the teaching of science in our schools!