Wednesday, April 09, 2014
Why Teacher Due Process Rights Are Important.
There's little question that there has been a coordinated attack on teacher "due process rights" State after State and school districts throughout the nation have various proposals and sometimes new laws that either diminish or eliminate teacher tenure and their "due process rights.
The latest is the State of Kansas which has eliminated teacher tenure and is awaiting the Republican Governor's signature to become law in the next school year. This follows a deterioration of teacher "due process rights" in many places throughout the nation. This attack on teacher tenure follows similar laws passed in North Carolina, Arizona, Virgina, and Connecticut. These changes follows the State's adoption to the "Race to the top" federal funding that requires that a teacher's evaluation be attached to high stakes testing using the "Common Core" standards.
In every State in the nation corporate education reformers have attacked teacher "due process rights" for example a major plank in StudentsFirst is the elimination of teacher tenure. While the corporate reform mole, Educators 4 Excellence, published a white paper asking that layoffs be based upon evaluations and the enemy of all teachers Democrats for Education Reform wants to eliminate teacher "due process rights" entirely. Other corporate reform funded groups have proposals that eliminate teacher tenure, scale back "due process rights" and include merit pay proposals. Even in labor friendly New York State, the corporate education reformers and their media allies continue to attack teacher tenure and "due process rights". Lately in demanding a time limit for ATRs and making the teacher evaluation system a termination program. For the former, ATR NYC has an article dealing with how the nation handles excessed teachers. In the latter case the hypocrite Governor insists that the badly flawed high stakes testing be up to 40% of a teacher's evaluation despite his acknowledgment that the tests should not be used as student scores. Finally the clueless Campbell Brown wants the Chancellor to terminate any teacher accused of sexual misconduct regardless if it's true or not.
The reality is that teachers need tenure protection and "due process rights". Teachers interact with between 32 and 150 students on a daily basis. These children have incomplete personalities and are very implosive and take offense to the most innocent action. A student can have a bad day and take offense what a teacher says or does and if the administrator doesn't like the teacher, charges of incompetence or misconduct will be the result. Without teacher "due process rights" any accusation would result in the teacher's termination. With teacher "due process rights" the school district needs to prove the accusations were true and that means gathering real and relevant evidence, not relying on gossip, hearsay, or innuendo as is the case when OSI and SCI commence their investigations and "substantiates the charges based upon talking to the Principal who wants to teacher gone from his school, evidence or not.
If it wasn't for our "due process rights", I could most certainly would have been terminated in 2007 when SCI "substantiated" the hearsay, gossip, and innuendo that is common in high schools. It made little difference that there was no real or relevant evidence of the charges since the Principal wanted me gone from the school and SCI obliged him. Would the Chancellor give me a fair hearing? Just look at the UFT's record on "U" rating appeals (0.2% was successful) to know my fate. Instead because of my "due process rights" I had a hearing in front of an State arbitrator who ruled in my favor and gave me a "slap on the wrist". That's why teacher "due process rights" are important. It can and will mean your job if we don't have it.