Thank you to Sandy Banks for enumerating some of the possible outcomes of the Los Angeles County Superior Court decision invalidating teacher protection laws in California. ("Judge's ruling on teacher tenure sends a message to unions, reformers," Column, June 13)
Tenure does not prevent a teacher from being harassed by a principal or fired from a school. Having just retired as a consulting teacher for educators who have received unsatisfactory evaluations, I have seen many cases of unfair feedback based on petty payback. I was amazed by how regularly I would walk into a classroom with an effective teacher who had received an unsatisfactory evaluation.
Teachers still need protections and strong unions; without those, the injustices that take place in the classroom will only become more frequent.
The Vergara case might not have happened if teachers unions would take an honest look at their membership and help to remove the very small minority of teachers who really shouldn't be in the classroom.
As it is, unions insist on 100% retention of teachers, while there are clearly some (perhaps no more than 2%) who are detrimental to children and who lower morale for other teachers and create a negative climate in schools.
The unions fight for a tiny minority and end up potentially losing on the other 98% of teachers. This makes no sense to me.
Let's assume that Vergara is rightly decided factually and is legally correct and that all teachers will be adequate or better. That only solves one-third of the problem.
As I tell the parents of my middle school students, there are three major parts to educational success: the teacher, the parents and the students. If any one part is not doing what it needs to do, success is impossible.
The unspoken third rail of the educational system is parent involvement. There is no one reason why students are not successful. In fact, there may be many. But there is an overwhelming correlation between lack of parental involvement and poor student performance.
As a middle school teacher, I see 160 students each day for a total of 265 minutes. Do the math. At most I have a minute or two to spend with each student.
Without parental support, the student fails. And we can't fire poor parents.
Steven L. Rice
Thousand OaksCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times