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Letters: Teachers need some protection

April 09, 2014

Re "Kill tenure, cure schools?," Opinion, April 3

A ruling in favor of the plaintiffs in Vergara vs. California will be hailed as a victory for the rights of students over the rights of teachers. But this interpretation is not necessarily true.

As documented in the media, exemplary performance has provided teachers no protection from abusive principals in New York City, home of the nation's largest school district. If it were not for the existence of seniority and tenure, outstanding teachers there would be forced out, depriving students of their talent.

Favoritism is alive and well in public schools despite efforts to eliminate it. It will only get worse if the present rules are changed.

Walt Gardner

Los Angeles

Gardner is the author of Education Week's Reality Check blog.

There are three generations of teachers in my family. In the 1940s, my father helped start a teachers union.

I suggest the following as an alternative to California's current "last hired, first fired" system of teacher layoffs:

School districts should establish three categories of teachers: rookies, experienced and veterans. Come budget cutbacks, an equal proportion of teachers would be dismissed from each category. That would avoid dismissing only the newest while offering some protection to the most senior and highest-paid teachers. The blow to veteran teachers might be softened by their partial retirement benefits.

Continuing to use "last hired, first fired" discourages young people who want to take teacher training in college.

Wendell H. Jones

Ojai

I defy anyone to give me a convincing argument that anyone anywhere should be guaranteed a job for life regardless of performance.

The idea that tenure is used to attract people to teaching is ridiculous. Why wouldn't you look for people who are so good at their job that you just can't live without them, instead of people who are so bad at their job that they require a guarantee that they will retain that job?

Steve Stillman

Redondo Beach

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