California Students Battle The State In Court - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

California Students Battle The State In Court

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Anyone who thinks kids in California aren't particularly interested in the competence of those charged with disseminating information in the classroom would do well to take a look at nine students who are suing the state to "gain access to quality education." You may or may not agree with their legal point of view but you have to admire their moxie. I'm just glad they care enough about the skill level of those purportedly shaping their young minds to put up a good fight.

It promises to be an uphill battle for sure but, if they win, their victory could have ripple effects all across the country. The students are challenging California's laws pertaining to teacher tenure, dismissal and layoffs. The challengers insist that such laws violate the state constitution. Essentially, the plaintiffs argue that minority and poor students, who are in the most need of some of the best teachers, are the least likely to get them in California because of the way the laws work.

The group Students Matter, which is sponsoring the case, contends ineffective teachers are "entrenched" in California's public school system, a "fact" that many school district superintendents acknowledge, according to the press release.  As you might imagine, the California Teachers Association (CTA) vehemently disagrees with the group's assertions and has intervened in the lawsuit hoping to deal it a fatal blow.

Students Matter insists new teachers are granted "permanent employment" status after 18 months, long before a school district is able to assess his or her level of effectiveness. CTA maintains a year and a half is plenty long enough to determine a teacher's level of competence. But that's not the plaintiffs' only complaint. They claim it practically takes an act of God to get rid of a bad teacher. They say furthermore, when teachers are laid off, the bad apples should go first, not automatically the teachers with the least seniority, who may be some of the best.

While I haven't studied the issues involved enough to come down emphatically on one side or the other, I enthusiastically applaud the nine students bringing the suit for doing so. If there are inequities in the system and the legislature is unwilling or unable because of the powerful CTA lobby to get rid of them, the courtroom is probably the next best place to expose what's wrong and strike it down.

Tony McEwing co-anchors FOX 11 Morning News at 4:30 am and provides news updates for the Emmy award winning Good Day LA, broadcast weekdays from 7:00 - 10:00 am. He also co-anchors the FOX 11 10 am News and the FOX 11 News at Noon.
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