Study criticizes CA’s tenure, dismissal laws
(District of Columbia) In a stinging evaluation of policies and standards governing classroom educators in California, the National Council on Teacher Quality put yet another spotlight on teacher protection laws.
The NCTQ, a non-partisan advocacy group that receives support from the Gates Foundation among others, gave California an overall grade of D-plus in its seventh annual survey of policies that affect teacher preparation, evaluation and compensation.
The negative report represents a status quo for California over the past three years that might sting more except that the council’s research team gave the same grade or worse to 16 other states and the District of Columbia.
Florida received the highest grade, a B-plus; while 13 states got a B or B-minus – including Louisiana, New York and Indiana. Nineteen states fell into the C category, including Colorado, Kentucky, Arizona, Nevada and Texas.
The report notes that during the past five years, 37 states improved their overall grade by one full level “because of signiﬁcant reform, particularly in the areas of teacher evaluation and related teacher effectiveness policies.”
California was not one of them, although in the council’s opinion, the state has improved in teacher preparation.
As much of the review is based on state laws and politically-driven policies, California was strongly downgraded as a result of rules that the council believes do not go far enough in weeding out ineffective teachers – an area of governance that the council graded as failing
The report specifically cited California’s laws around tenure and dismissals as key issues.
“California does not explicitly make teacher ineffectiveness grounds for dismissal, nor does the state distinguish the due process rights of teachers dismissed for ineffective performance from those facing other charges commonly associated with license revocation, such as a felony and/or morality violations,” they said, noting also that tenured teachers who are terminated have multiple opportunities to appeal.
The state’s tenure and dismissal rules are also in play before a superior court judge in a lawsuit that has attracted widespread attention.
The case against the state, brought on behalf of nine students from schools throughout California, is being pushed by Students Matter, led by Silicon Valley entrepreneur David Welch. Supporting the state is the California Teachers Association and California Federation of Teachers.
The lawsuit seeks to invalidate tenure and dismissal laws on constitutional grounds protecting student’s rights to equal access to an adequate education.
The trial began this week and is expected to last a month.
In terms of favorable review of California teacher policies, the council gave high marks around its induction program, professional development and compensation.
They praised the California Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment (BTSA) Induction Program as “a state-funded program, cosponsored by the California Department of Education and the Commission on Teacher Credentialing, designed to support the professional development of newly credentialed beginning teachers and to fulfill the requirements for the California Clear Multiple and Single Subject Credentials.”