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Bruno: "Ineffective" LA Teacher Awarded Tenure & "Teacher Of Year Award"

2327243497_b0b6baede9_nI don't have much to say about the Vergara v State of California trial, in which students and reformers are suing to end various seniority and tenure protections for teachers.

I'm personally skeptical that these teacher protections are so bad for kids that they justify judicial intervention, but I'm no lawyer and am often surprised by what judges and juries decide.

Something that caught my eye, however, was the fact that one of the teachers the plaintiffs have identified as too "ineffective" to be given seniority protections has nevertheless received a "Teacher of the Year" award in Los Angeles County.

(I can't actually find any confirmation online that she won a county-wide competition - as opposed to being the nominee from her much-smaller district - but you can see related video of Christine McLaughlin here.)

This is obviously an awkward juxtaposition of teacher quality evaluations that the defense intends to exploit, but it's also illustrative of a real problem for the profession in general: namely, that we don't really have a meaningful, useful definition of "good teaching".

You can argue that this is a result of seniority protections that protect and reward teachers exclusively on the basis of superficial characteristics like experience and degrees. Or you can argue that seniority and due process rights are essential precisely because other judgments of teacher quality are likely to be too arbitrary.

In either case, teachers like me are left working in a profession where an Employee of the Year can also be considered so "grossly ineffective" as to justify a major civil rights lawsuit. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)

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