John Merrow’s take on Vergara

John Merrow’s take is that the Vergara decision was correct, in that the seniority rules, in and of themselves, are indefensible. I recommend reading what he has to say here.


A few paragraphs:

Teacher union foes like Whitney Tilson and RiShawn Biddle could hardly restrain themselves, while union leaders Weingarten, van Roekel and New York City’s United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew complained that the decision diverted attention from social unfairness[5] and then attacked the man behind the lawsuit. Here’s part of Mulgrew’s statement: “What shocks the conscience is the way the judge misread the evidence and the law, and sided with a Silicon Valley millionaire who never taught a day in his life.”[6]

Judge Treu stayed the decision pending appeal and urged the legislature to fix the problems, but how likely is it that the California legislature will act to make earning tenure a more reasonable process, perhaps after three or even four years of teaching, instead of two?

That’s probably not going to happen because the CTA still wields great power. But if California needs a model, New York City’s approach to granting tenure seems to work well, as Chalkbeat explains here.

“Last hired, first fired”–using seniority as the sole factor in layoffs–is as indefensible as 2-year tenure, but it is alsocounter-productive because it alienates young teachers, some of whom are showing their displeasure by declining to support their national and state unions. That’s happened in Modesto, California and Wicomico, Maryland, where local chapters want to disaffiliate with their state association and the NEA itself. In neither case has it been pretty.

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. When I was young I did not like the fact that experienced teachers were given preference in many areas including assignments. I complained but not much happened. Now I have been Math Department leader for some time and I have given teaching assignments to young teachers that only experienced teachers use to get. Guess what happened? You guessed it, the experienced teachers want to get rid of me and my union! Damned if you do and damned if you don’t. The answer seems to be the same as with school choice. I tell administrators the idea of choice is to use it when you do not like what you are getting. Just like a car, if car x has limited space and you need more then do not buy car x and look for a better car for you. If your child does not like school x then transfer to school y. Wasn’t that the idea? Unfortunately, the parents approach is different. They try to change school x to fit their child. They are still living in the old paradigm. So, young teachers in district x do not like CTA then drop out and see how that works or start another union, but the union cannot be in the business of trying to meet the requests of each group. The union could try to be more flexible, but be careful of unintended consequences. We have in-district transfer language in our contract and at the time of the original agreement many years ago, seniority was listed first to show it should have top priority and then a host of other qualifications were listed in order of importance. Over time and many contracts later, our administration believes the order was irrelevant and had no special purpose. So today, we have transfer decisions based on “the good old boys and girls system”. Teachers who never question anything like having 45 students in a science lab class; they get the best transfer assignments and this is what is being discussed in the news today. The “bad teachers” are transferred to the lowest performing schools where almost no one wants to teach and the “good teachers ” are transferred to the top performing schools. These are usually teachers with about 5 years or less classroom experience and have not had time to get a negative identity by questioning anything. The point being in case I am not being clear is you NEED to clearly state your priority list and make it clear that number one has the highest priority and you look at number two only if all candidates are equal on number one or else the administration will pick and choose what fits their agenda and therein, the agreement to have a list is a wasted exercise. Just my opinion after 43 years of REAL classroom experience in several states.


  2. Here is a teacher’s view of tenure; not all teachers support it.


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