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A middle ground on tenure? Some teachers in California say yes.

Published: Sunday, July 13 2014 8:35 a.m. MDT

Marcellus McRae, plaintiff's co-lead counsel, with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, at podium, is joined with members of Students Matter, a national educational non-profit organization, that helped the plaintiffs on the Vergara v. California lawsuit, as he praises a landmark decision that could influence the gathering debate over tenure across the country in Los Angeles, Tuesday, June 10, 2014.

Damian Dovarganes, Associated Press

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As the education world continues to reverberate from the Vegera vs. California teacher tenure ruling, Eric Westervelt at NPR reports that some teachers in California are recognizing that tenure needs to be reformed, but they want to fix it, not nix it.

"Immediately after the ruling," Time reported, "teachers’ unions signaled they would appeal. 'This will not be the last word,' American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten said in a statement. 'As this case makes it through an appeal, we will continue to do what we’ve done in state after state. ... No wealthy benefactor with an extreme agenda will detour us from our path to reclaim the promise of public education.'"

Westervelt writes that he has spoken to multiple teachers in California who recognize the need for a middle ground on tenure. Everyone knows that some teachers are lousy, acknowledges Alan Warhaftig, a high school English teacher.

"Warhaftig, who spoke with NPR member station KPCC, is very clear," Westervelt reports. "He wants tenure protections for teachers — especially against dismissals that could be political or capricious. What if a veteran teacher, he asks, is targeted for layoffs to meet a principal's bottom line?

"If job stability were removed from the equation, I don't know that someone like me would have gotten into the profession for the long run," Warhaftig said.

"But Warhaftig says problems with tenure and dismissal need to be addressed. He says the state panel that reviews dismissals — which includes union representatives — overturns way too many firings. So some administrators, he says, have simply thrown in the towel on trying to get rid of really bad teachers," Westervelt continued.

But while some are searching for moderation, the national unions are still seeking payback. At the recent National Education Association convention in Colorado, the delegates called for Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to resign over comments he made in support of the Vegara.

That breach between the Obama administration and the Unions has been festering for some time, New York Magazine notes.

"The Obama administration’s education reforms have been almost completely absent from the national political debate because neither Party has an incentive to talk about them. Republicans don’t want to admit that Obama has carried out policies — more charter schools and teacher accountability — that they have spent years endorsing. Democrats don’t want to call attention to an issue that alienates teachers unions, a core element of their base. And teachers unions themselves don’t want to force their own members to choose between the union's agenda and Obama's."

Email: eschulzke@desnews.com

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