As the election to fill three Burbank Unified school board seats comes to an end, one issue has been completely left blowing in the wind: the tenure system, or the obtaining of permanent status as a teacher.
A generally avoided, divisive topic, the idea of tenure in our public school system is something we all need to be willing to talk about. A quick rundown of the system in California: A permanent status-holding, or tenured, public school teacher is “protected” from termination, excluding “obvious” cases of incompetence and/or misconduct.
Translation: It’s going to take far more than a formal complaint to remove a teacher who’s been in a classroom full time for as little as three years. For example, a student may feel verbally abused by a teacher and file a written formal complaint against them, yet still see no action taken as the teacher had contributed years of work to the school.
Tenure was originally introduced to prevent teachers from being fired on a whim, whether it be personal or political. Our state and district’s current situation with tenure is bit more tricky. Current tenure laws are set as a statewide standard, disallowing local school districts a voice or decision regarding the system. As of now, tenure reform is only possible for the state as a whole, leaving school board members and district superintendents little to no say on the matter.
As a city, district and state, we need to grasp the opportunity that has presented itself, and that opportunity is Gov. Jerry Brown.
Brown campaigned around several basic principles, one of those being returning power back to local leaders. While this was focused mainly around local allocation of funds, it might be translated as a signal to our school districts as well.
Our district officials and school board members need to voice, both to us and to Brown, their desire to put the tenure system in local hands. Doing so would allow the district to decide on the matter, favorably or unfavorably.
Fighting the statewide tenure system isn’t an option anymore; it’s a battle that must be had. Regardless of the state or district’s decision on the matter, we as citizens need to inform ourselves heavily on this issue.
If we don’t, we may be turning a blind eye to bigger problem.
Neighborhood is lacking civility
When will the city of Burbank take control of its environment and protect fully grown trees in residential neighborhoods from capricious homeowners who hack away at these beauties along disputed property lines, leaving the butchered five-foot trunks as eyesores more than 18 months later?
Check the six fully grown palm and pine trees removed at one property, now stumps, at the corner of Verdugo Avenue at Frederic Street. And it’s not as though we didn’t warn the Burbank tree doctor and parks department in advance, as these charmers made their intentions well known over our protests.
At what point will common sense take over? At the moment, if one calls the Burbank police after yet another unruly unsupervised teen party on a school night past 2 a.m., the offending party is apparently told exactly who reported their after-hours carousing and squealing and yelling to authorities. Hello? We the community, along with several neighboring houses, have already asked them politely to lower their voices, to no avail — now you want to put us in danger because the parents of said teens have no couth or manners?
And at what point will the city of Burbank require IQ tests of dog walkers? I’m only half in jest, as every morning at the bright pitch of 8 a.m. along Verdugo Drive, blood-curdling screams can be heard up and down the block as a Pomeranian in a choke collar is literally dragged along the boulevard, teamed up with four other dogs tripping over one another. Half an hour later, on the walker’s return visit, plastic bags of doggy droppings are lowered in our trash cans, which perfume the air nicely by high noon.
At what price, civility?
Bicyclists should pay to use roads
I believe that since the city of Burbank — which chooses to narrow our streets with bike lanes, thus squeezing our already traffic-congested streets — should require that bicycles using streets be registered, and issued a plate.
Why should I pay my tax dollars for use of the streets, and bike riders get a free ride! No pun intended.
Of course those using the bike path are exempt.
What’s fair is far. Let’s put all this insanity about riders of bikes, using them to go to work, and run errands. It’ll never happen.
I want to see one council member on a bike, not just those who started this mess.
If you believe Screenland Drive was unsafe for kids, check out near misses of adults on bikes on our crowded streets!