Former California Superintendent Responds to TIME’s Cover


This is one part of a series of readers’ responses to this week’s cover.

Everyone on every side of Vergara agrees that nothing is more important to K-12 education than effective teachers. And most teachers and every teacher union leader I have ever spoken with about the topic agree that California’s teacher tenure laws are highly flawed. Unfortunately and despite these agreements, there has not been the political will to reform these dysfunctional laws and we are left to litigation as a means to correct a system doesn’t serve students or teachers well.

Virtually every year in my thirty-four years of service as a school leader in California, I was faced with the requirement to decide if a teacher was to receive “permanent” status after only fifteen months of work as a novice. This decision had to be made with the knowledge that once “permanent” it was virtually impossible to…

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