To Justices Cantil-Sakauye,Corrigan, Kruger,and Werdegar:

by Mrs. Sabraw

I abandoned public education in 1998 after spending 26 years in the system. A host of tenured teachers in our English department, vocal proponents of the California Teachers’ Association,  helped to make that decision easy.

I opened my own after-school program, which focused on writing, grammar, and literary analysis.  In five years, we had an enrollment of 1000 students who paid to enroll in classes in the Fall, Winter, and Summer Sessions. Their parents could afford to pay for the instruction, instruction which should have been taking place one mile down the road at the local high school. Thank you Tenure!

Justices Cantil-Sakaue, Corrigan, Kruger, and Werdegar: I present you with a true story of Tenured Teacher A and her modus operandi:

Assign a literary analysis paper on September 15 to gifted sophomores in high school, whose academic goals include a 4.2 GPA, admission to Cal and Stanford, and 4-5’s on all AP tests.

When the first drafts come in on September 21, collect them—all 100 papers from three sections of 35 students each.

Put the papers in your car, take them home, and set them on top of your dresser.

Don’t read the papers.

When the students finally work up the nerve to inquire how the papers are coming, tell them the papers are so terrible that it is taking you forever to get through them. That’s right: if you create anxiety, the students, Asians and East Indian kids in particular,  will work harder.

On October 15, carry the unread papers back into your classroom. In all three classes, announce to your eager students that you have not made one mark on any of the papers because, frankly, after reading them, you were appalled. Then say, “ Would you like to redo your papers for a better grade, or should I  correct them this weekend?”

All students readily agree to take their unmarked papers home.

On October 22, collect the second draft of the papers.

One month later, on November 22, right before the Thanksgiving holiday, return the papers with a tentative grade in pencil at the top. Again, do not make any marks on the papers.

Tell the students that if they redo their papers one more time, perhaps the pencil grade will become an inked higher grade. Don’t tell them that you have put B’s and C’s on all papers.

During the Thanksgiving holiday, your students will work feverishly.

Collect the final drafts  on December 5, take them home during the Winter Break and return the graded essays in early January.

Good job! You have only corrected one paper the entire semester while the little beaver down the hall in Room N-9 has corrected 4 papers in that time period. What a little sucker she is.

*   *   *   *   *

Justices: Your decision not to take up Vergara v. State of California was at best disappointing; at worst, irresponsible.

Thank you Justices Chin, Liu, and Cuellar for your dissents.

Tenure for public school teachers is bad.




About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
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14 Responses to To Justices Cantil-Sakauye,Corrigan, Kruger,and Werdegar:

  1. shoreacres says:

    I don’t know the details of the litigation, but I recognize some of the issues. I believe that, back in the days of railroading, the term that applied was “featherbedding.” And I agree with your stance on tenure. I can’t imagine that any state would consider such a thing for public school teachers — but apparently some states have, and the unhappy consequences are obvious.

    Even though there’s no formal tenure here in Texas, getting rid of incompetent teachers is almost impossible, and preventing arbitrary decision-making by administrations equally so. The most egregious example I can think of is the French teacher in a Houston school who was fired and replaced with someone who didn’t speak a word of French. He had his students translate by using Google.

    • Cheri says:

      Your Houston “French” teacher’s using Google Translate is hilarious, unless you are a student in this teacher’s class.
      I’ve looked up the definition of featherbedding; I’m not sure it is the issue in the Vergara v. State of California case.
      Tenure is a hotbed topic for all teachers. It guarantees a job with benefits for life (unless said teacher commits a felony or molests a child or both). I’ve only presented the case of Teacher A here and left out a number of specifics to ensure no one can identify her for sure. I can go on for 25 more cases until I end up with Teacher Z.

      It’s an issue I thought would cool for me once I escaped the system but I find that I still fire up whenever tenure is in the news. Sad thing is that I know Carol Corrigan personally, as well as Ming Chin. Can’t wait to run into them at some legal/judicial gathering and broach the topic.

      I’m hoping they have a Google Alert for their own names…

  2. Jim says:

    The CTA’s argument for tenure is so sophomoric, If it is soooo necessary,
    why isn’t it seen in other professions?

    Private enterprise does just dandy without a tenure system. So why can’t the teaching profession ?

    • Cheri says:

      It can’t. It is made up of many insecure individuals who cede personal power to a group of average union executives. Have you heard anything uttered by Randi Weingarten?

  3. wkkortas says:

    While I am not full-throated, both-feet in the anti-tenure camp (administrators and school board can be awfully wooly-headed in their actions), the CTAs stance reflects what I think is a general problem with organized labor today, in that they seem to be stuck in the 1920s mindset, where the relationship with management/ownership is a wholly adversarial one, rather than one which recognizes that they have a good deal in common in terms of their goals. Very often, this mindset may gain them something in the short term, but does woeful damage in the long term.

    • Cheri says:

      You make a valid point. I do agree. I don’t buy the fearful argument about dealing with the power hungry principal out to get quality teachers. The whole Kentucky argument posited by the Palo Alto set. School Boards and Administration are also weak, weak, weak. The entire system needs to be replaced by private enterprise. Extreme, yes.

  4. Richard says:

    A major function of the courts is to dispense justice according to law for the individual as against a powerful institution such as a trade union, and particularly the state.

    To do so often requires supreme judicial courage, understanding and impartiality, a rare thing indeed.

  5. Dr. J says:

    Absolutely appalling!! Tenure is a joke! What private business, entrepreneurial endeavor, or profession has tenure except academics. It breeds mediocrity. Once “tenured,” why not throttle it back and put on the breaks. How about an incentive based system that keeps innovation high and striving to be better everyday!!

  6. Brig says:

    Having worked in the system, I whole heartedly agree with you, and the CSEA is just as bad in its own way.
    You have a kindred spirit in Euripides:

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