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Trial Opens In Case That Could End California Teacher Tenure Laws

Publication Date: 
January 28, 2014
Source: 
KQED - News Fix
Author: 
Mina Kim and Lisa Pickoff-White

Professor Bill Koski comments on the legality of arguments against teacher tenure in California for KQED.

Opening arguments began Monday in Los Angeles in a lawsuit challenging California’s rules on how and when a teacher should be fired. The suit by Silicon Valley-based Students Matter argues that the state’s tenure and seniority laws saddle students with ineffective teachers.

Attorneys for the governor, the state Department of Education and teachers’ unions say the laws help attract and retain quality teachers.

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Stanford Law School Professor Bill Koski says proving that argument hinges on whether the attorneys can link the laws to student underperformance.

“The fundamental argument that they’re trying to make is that the conspiracy between tenure laws, teacher dismissal laws and teacher layoff laws have worked together to deny certain children their fundamental right to an education,” Koski said. “What they would have to prove is that these laws actually do work to tie the hands of administrators in ways that cause them to keep underperforming teachers in the classroom. That these teachers in turn create underperformance among the students. And also that students who suffer from these teachers are denied that fundamental right to an education.”

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The state and unions have a compelling argument that it’s not the laws that are hampering students’ eduction, but the fact that schools are starved of resources, Koski said.