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Defense Witness Agrees That Ineffective Teachers in the Classroom Compound the Risks That Students Face Outside of School

State Defendants and Intervenors called three witnesses, Ms. Shannan Brown, Ms. Elizabeth Davies and Dr. Peggy Raun-Linde, to the stand today in the education equality trial, Vergara v. California. All three witnesses testified about the workarounds that their districts use in order to remove ineffective teachers from the classroom without going through the full dismissal process under the Dismissal Statutes.

Defendants and Intervenors’ first witness of the day, Ms. Brown, is a teacher and the President of the San Juan Teachers Association.  Ms. Brown testified about the methods that the San Juan Unified School District uses to exit ineffective teachers from the profession.  She testified that it is “important to get ineffective teachers out of the profession” and – like one of yesterday’s defense witnesses, Ms. Olson-Jones – agreed that the need for adequate funding and the need for effective teachers are not mutually exclusive. Ms. Brown further agreed that:

  • Challenges outside of school do not eliminate the need for effective teachers;
  • Challenges outside of school are not an excuse for keeping ineffective teachers in the class;
  • Ineffective teachers can compound issues that high-risk kids face outside of school;
  • There are some teachers who receive tenure and later receive unsatisfactory ratings;
  • Consistently ineffective teachers should not be given unlimited remediation options;
  • Remediation programs do not eliminate the need for a dismissal process; and
  • It is demoralizing for the same people – junior teachers – to continually receive layoff notices.

Defendants and Intervenors’ second witness of the day, Ms. Davies, is the Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education in the San Juan Unified School District. Ms. Davies testified that she put the district’s strongest principals at its Title 1 schools and used additional funding to reduce class sizes in Title 1 schools.  However, she confirmed during cross-examination that the API scores for African American and Latino students in her district are lower than the average API scores for African American and Latino students statewide.

Defendants and Intervenors’ third witness, Dr. Raun-Linde, is the Principal of Adult Education for Fremont Unified High School District. Dr. Raun-Linde testified about teachers whose performance was rated “unsatisfactory” and who subsequently resigned.

Background

Throughout trial, Defendants and Intervenors have pointed to various workarounds to dismissal as evidence that the Dismissal Statutes themselves function.  However, multiple witnesses for the defense have acknowledged that if teachers refuse to enter into settlement agreements or other arrangements with their districts, the only option for districts to remove grossly ineffective teachers from the classroom is to pursue dismissal through the Dismissal Statutes.

Statewide Developments

Recently, San Jose Unified School District and the San Jose Teachers Association jointly asked the California Department of Education for a waiver from the Permanent Employment Statute, in order to implement a flexible one- to three-year probationary period for new teachers that would provide administrators more time to make an informed decision about granting tenure.  Stephen McMahon, San Jose Unified School District’s Chief Business Officer, told the San Jose Mercury News, “Permanent status for a teacher is one of the biggest decisions a district makes…We want to make sure we’re making that decision with all the relevant information.” However, the California Teachers Association (CTA), one of the Intervenors in Vergara v. California, staunchly opposed the request. Yesterday, the California Department of Education, one of the State Defendants in Vergara, denied the joint request.

Former teacher and state Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero discussed San Jose’s waiver request in a debate about Vergara v. California with a representative from the CTA on the PBS show SoCal Insider.

Gloria PBS