Neel Kashkari praises teacher-tenure ruling

A Los Angeles judge’s ruling Tuesday that California’s teacher tenure, layoff and dismissal laws are unconstitutional is “an important first step in transforming our schools,” Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari said.

“I applaud today’s ruling by Judge Treu, which recognizes that every student in California has a Constitutional right to a quality education but that their rights are being violated by failing schools,” Kashkari said in a statement issued soon after the ruling.

“California ranks 46th in the nation in education, and it will take the joint efforts of parents, teachers and political leaders to make the bold changes our kids deserve,” he said. “Today’s ruling is an important first step in transforming our schools; if we are to close the achievement gap, reduce income inequality and rebuild the middle class, then we must continue to pursue bold education reform. I have made transforming our schools a centerpiece of my campaign for Governor and I am encouraged by today’s development.”

UPDATE @ 12:40 P.M.: Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, the House Education and the Workforce Committee’s senior Democrat, also applauded the ruling:

“Judge Treu’s ruling affirms the simple and undeniable premise that every child, regardless of background or zip code, has the right to a high-quality education and an effective teacher. It is not only Californians who should celebrate today’s decision, but families in every state and school district across the country.

“For years, our nation’s courts have been the arbiter of equity in education. Like Brown v. Board, Serrano, Butt, and the many other landmark educational equality cases before it, Vergara will help refocus our education system on the needs of students.

“Unfortunately, school districts nationwide have policies in place that mirror those challenged in Vergara—policies that constrain the ability of schools to put the very best teachers in front the children that need them most. This is simply indefensible. Today’s ruling puts every school with similar policies on notice.

“I call upon all stakeholders in my home state—elected officials, community and school leaders, and teachers—to be bold and do what is right for kids. This is an historic opportunity and a defining moment for California, one that we must not squander. The Vergara decision underscores the state’s responsibility to protect the rights of children to constitutionally mandated equal educational opportunities. We owe it to the six million students in California’s public education system to be thoughtful and deliberate, and to put their needs first as we move forward.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Elwood

    According to the teachers’ union, this is the first sign of the apocalypse, presaging the end of the world.

    Remember the teachers’ union is not about better wages, benefits and conditions for the teachers, “it’s for the children.”


  • Willis James

    For the last 25+ years the CTA has hypnotized itself into thinking every position it took was ultimately “for the children”

    The truth is that it has become little more than a giant union, insular and deaf to the needs of the children if they ever conflict with the “rights” of teachers.

    In 10 years only 91 of California’s teachers, who now number 285,000, have been fired, most for inappropriate conduct. And only 19 were dismissed for unsatisfactory performance.

    So you have about 1 teacher in 3,100 dismissed over 10 years.
    Can you think of any other profession with so few dismissals.

  • JohnW

    Wow! Both the ruling and George Miller’s positive response to it surprise me. Predictably, Tom Torlakson’s reaction was not so positive. I voted for Marshall Tuck for school sup in the primary and plan to do so again in the general.

  • This shortsighted, ignorant ruling also represents a serious threat to academic freedom in our U.C., C.S.U., and community college system, not just K-12. Trust that the California Court of Appeal and California Supreme Court may have the last word on this.

  • Elwood

    Are you an employee of the teachers’ union?

    A teacher?

    Remember, the teachers’ union is “for the children.”

    And the wolves are for the sheep.

    Don’t hold your breath waiting for this to be reversed.

  • None of the above, @disqus_Ptv415LeGl:disqus. Though my aunt was a public school teacher in San Francisco for 35 years.

    I also would challenge any supporter of this ruling to look at the highest performing school districts in the state … cough, cough — San Ramon Valley Unified — cough, cough … and see if there’s any support to eliminate teacher tenure, either among district leaders or parents.

    Bet you’ll find none.

    Eliminating tenure is no panacea for what ails our schools . . . the snake oil salesman and billionaire charter-school-venture-capitalist behind this lawsuit, however, wants to eliminate the competitive advantage public schools possess over charter schools in that public schools can offer job security — in the form of tenure — that charter schools both operationally and philosophically opt not to provide teachers. That difference hurts teacher recruitment at the charters.

    The wolves in this scenario seem to be the financial backers of the lawsuit, and the sheep the poor kids used as plaintiffs.

  • Naj

    I’m no longer a public school teacher, but I’ll tell you that the wolves are administrators and up. The teachers are the guard dogs. Some are asleep on the job, but teachers do far more to help kids than even parents. You speak out of pigheaded ignorance in every post I’ve seen.

  • Naj

    And you are about what? Throwing BS barbs and loving yourself?

  • Naj

    Neel Kashkari will be crushed coldly.

  • Naj

    I don’t know if your numbers are correct, but most intelligent people abandon the profession because the working conditions are too degrading to bear. The older teachers I know largely cannot wait to retire. Something like 50% of new teachers leave the profession within 5 years. I guess the squirrel’s eye follows the sparkly lights and doesn’t realize they’re attached to a car until it’s too late, squirrel.

  • JohnW

    The reasoning behind this ruling has zero legal significance for university tenure and academic freedom. First, you don’t get university tenure until you reach associate professor level, which generally takes about 7 years of faculty experience and rigorous peer review. There is nothing automatic about university tenure. That’s a bit different than automatic tenure after 18 months probation in K-12. There is no last in, first out layoff policy in universities. There is compelling academic freedom justification for university tenure that doesn’t apply in K-12, where you are expected to teach to the plan. University tenure does not have a disparate impact on minorities, but K-12 tenure and layoff restrictions do, which was the basis for this ruling.

  • JohnW

    To answer your question, my sister taught high school math in the SRUSD for more than 30 years and continued to do so as a substitute after retiring at 65. She and her husband had three children educated in the district. I can guarantee you that they do not oppose this ruling. Besides, this ruling is about the low performing schools that are low performing in part because of the tenure and layoff laws.

  • JohnW

    Now, they need to do something about tenure and layoffs for willfully nonperforming K-12 students who accomplish nothing but waste the time and resources of the schools and their fellow students.

  • Willis James

    Almost everything you say is true for every profession or job category.
    The average California teacher retiring in 2012-2013 collects a pension and will do so for over 23 years.
    They will have worked 26.8 years for that pension.
    Most folks in the private sector work from age 23 to age 65, or 42 years.
    Most teachers don’t have it so bad and get excellent compensation. Average teacher in California has a salary over $69,000 and towards the end of their career it is substantially higher.
    A teacher who works a 40 year career, as my father did in education will now get a 96% pensionn for life from the STRS.

  • Naj

    1. 26.8 years as a teacher, maybe, but most teachers have worked other jobs and get cut out of their Social Security. You’re comparing apples to oranges.

    Teacher salaries are usually judged as a matter of total compensation, so the districts add in all taxes paid on the teacher. That greatly inflates the stated salaries. Meanwhile, in the private sector, nobody adds the payroll taxes when calculating employee compensation.
    Working conditions for teachers are downright insulting. I hear my buddy complain about the crap he has to go through as an HVAC guy. It did not compare to the constant degradation I faced. Granted, each school is different. Many schools are wonderful. However, my experience was absolutely miserable. Note: the kids and parents were wonderful.

    As for a 40 year career and a good retirement, that’s a wonderful thing. However, most teachers don’t make it that far, and everybody knows that pensions can no longer be counted on.

  • Elwood

    Thanks for sharing!

    I bow to your superior knowledge and high opinion of teachers (of which you were one of course, so I’m sure yours is an unbiased opinion).

  • Elwood

    “When school children start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of children.” –Albert Shanker

  • Elwood

    It’s just as likely that he did. Supporters of him and the teachers’ union have worked diligently for years attempting to prove the negative that he didn’t say it.

  • Elwood

    My goodness, you are a very angry little person aren’t you?

    You have it all wrong. I am the reality man.

    I cut through the BS.

  • JohnW

    It’s like those many quotes attributed to Thomas Jefferson, especially about guns. I don’t think the heads of the state and national teacher unions care that much about either the teachers or the kids, First and foremost is preserving the union itself.