Opinion: It’s not silly for students to believe teacher tenure rules violate their rights

Vergara v. State of California’s student plaintiffs
Some of the student plaintiffs in the Vergara v. State of California case walk away from the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles in February.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Your editorial asserts that the state Supreme Court made the right call when it let the appellate court decision preserving teacher tenure laws stand. I strongly disagree and believe the plaintiff’s constitutional rights were and continue to be violated. (“Now that the Vergara case is over, let’s reform teacher tenure laws,” editorial, Aug. 24)

Using the theory of disparate impact, laws or practices in employment, housing or other areas may be considered discriminatory and illegal if they have a disproportionate adverse impact on persons in a protected class. The tenure, seniority and transfer rules for teachers have a huge disparate impact on students at low-income schools. These students should be a protected class, as they are the future of our society. 

Teachers at schools with mostly low-income children are more likely to have provisional, emergency or no teaching credentials, have fewer years of experience and have been at the school for fewer years. This is not a “few percent of the educational workforce” at these specific schools. 

Your assertion that the claims of the lawsuit “border on the silly” belittles the legitimate grievance of these students.


Steve Murray, Huntington Beach


To the editor: Your editorial does not mention the administrators’ role in the problem of too many ineffective teachers. It doesn’t matter if the probationary time is two years, three years, or five years if the teachers are not observed and given guidance. 

In my more than 30 years of teaching, I worked under very competent and conscientious administrators. But there were also examples of the opposite.


Administrators need to observe teachers for a full period, not 15 minutes. Their visits should be unannounced so teachers cannot put on a dog and pony show. Sometimes an administrator just wants a body in the classroom and doesn’t care or want to know what is going on.

It is the administrators who are suppose to evaluate the teachers, and thus it is the administrators who allow ineffective teachers to get tenure.

Ilene Oller, Los Angeles

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