Students vs. Status Quo: California lawsuits target teachers’ union work rules

Larry Sand writes about the approach reformers are taking to combat the impenetrable block the CA Teacher’s Unions practices to prevent any kind of reform to policies such as seniority and tenure rules for teachers.

When politics fails, reformers turn to the courts. California’s Democrat-controlled state legislature has resisted reforms that threaten teacher-union power. Now two class-action lawsuits could undo the state’s longstanding seniority and tenure rules. On Tuesday, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge heard arguments from attorneys representing six families who say the nation’s second-largest school district has ignored the 40-year-old Stull Act, which requires the use of student performance in teacher evaluations. If successful, the lawsuit, filed last November, would require every school district in the Golden State to establish its own method of evaluating teachers—but all would need to use evidence of student learning based on standardized tests, just as 23 other states currently do.

A second lawsuit, filed last month on behalf of eight students from around the state, claims provisions of California’s education code—rigid tenure rules, a seniority-based firing system that ignores teacher quality, and a “due-process” system that makes it all but impossible to remove incompetent or criminal teachers—violate student rights.

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