national opinion

Monday Column
Carol Platt Liebau

[go to Liebau index]

Latest Column:
Stopping the Meltdown
What Beltway Republicans Need To Do

Subscribe to CRO Alerts
Sign up for a weekly notice of CRO content updates.

Jon Fleischman’s
The premier source for
California political news

Michael Ramirez

editorial cartoon

Do your part to do right by our troops.
They did the right thing for you.
Donate Today

CRO Talk Radio
Contributor Sites
Laura Ingraham

Hugh Hewitt
Eric Hogue
Sharon Hughes
Frank Pastore
[Radio Home]
















Lance T. Izumi - Contributor
[Courtesty of Pacific Research Institute]

Lance Izumi is Director of Education Studies for the Pacific Research Institute and
Senior Fellow in California Studies. He is a leading expert in education policy and the author of several major PRI studies. [go to Izumi index]

Arnold Drops a Nuke on Teacher Unions
Radical reforms for education...

[Lance T. Izumi] 1/7/05

Arnold Schwarzenegger is proving that he is truly the reformer that Californians hoped he would be when they elected him governor. While his rumored budget reforms got the most buzz before his state of the state address, his proposal to overturn teacher tenure and link teacher pay to merit and performance epitomizes his willingness to take on the powerful special interests that control Sacramento.

In California, after completing a two-year probationary period, teachers receive “permanent status” or tenure. Once tenured, it is virtually impossible to fire a teacher, regardless of poor performance. According to a Pacific Research Institute study of California’s teacher-tenure system, a tenured teacher “cannot be dismissed solely for failing to improve student achievement.”

Worse, “if students consistently fail to advance under one teacher, there is no explicit provision that allows districts to commence the dismissal process.” Governor Schwarzenegger correctly observes that “An educational system that rewards and protects a bad teacher at the expense of a child is wrong.” The tenure system has been shockingly effective in protecting bad teachers.

In The Worm in the Apple, an expose of teacher unions, former Forbes editor Peter Brimelow quotes an attorney who says that teacher termination hearings in California are “as detailed, as voluminous and painstaking as the O.J. trial.” Take the case of Juliet Ellery, a San Diego-area high school teacher.

Ms. Ellery refused to answer student questions, demeaned and insulted students, and refused to adhere to lesson plans. Frustrated students circulated a petition to have her dismissed. The district then spent eight years and $300,000 trying to fire Ellery. Although her teaching credential was eventually suspended for one year, Ellery returned to teaching after the suspension. Unsurprisingly, few districts try to fire bad teachers.

According to the state Office of Administrative Hearings, in the Los Angeles Unified School District from 1990 to 1999, only 13 dismissal panels were convened and just one tenured teacher’s case went through the dismissal process from beginning to end. In order to overhaul this dysfunctional system, Governor Schwarzenegger wants “teacher employment to be tied to performance, not to just showing up” and “teacher pay to be tied to merit, not tenure.” Other influential bodies agree.

The Teaching Commission, chaired by former IBM head Louis Gerstner, recently recommended that teacher pay be based on performance as measured by frequent individual teacher evaluations that include assessments of student achievement and other teacher skills. The Commission recommended a value-added assessment system that looks at annual improvements in student performance as measured by state tests.

This system would then estimate how much a teacher has contributed to a student’s gains, factoring in projections based on past performance. A teacher who raised students’ scores significantly would be deemed effective. In a recent paper, the Pacific Research Institute proposes a value-added assessment model for California that includes many of the elements recommended by the Commission.

The state’s powerful teacher unions will fight the governor’s proposals tooth and nail. Addressing legislators, Governor Schwarzenegger put this battle into perspective: “This is a battle of the special interests versus the children’s interests. Which will you choose?” Hopefully, policymakers in Sacramento will make the right choice. CRO

copyright 2005 Pacific Research Institute



Blue Collar -  120x90
120x90 Jan 06 Brand
Free Trial Static 02
ActionGear 120*60
Free Trial Static 01
Applicable copyrights indicated. All other material copyright 2003-2005