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Top 6 shockers: how Weingarten and Deasy agree on tenure

LA School Report | July 2, 2014

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Courtesy: Aspen Ideas Festival

Courtesy: Aspen Ideas Festival

The stage was set with the two public education luminaries, ready to square off on such lightning rod issues as tenure and teacher dismissal laws in the wake of last month’s Vergara trial: Randi Weingarten, leader of the nation’s second largest teachers organization, AFT, and Superintendent John Deasy, leader of the second largest school district in the country, Los Angeles Unified.

The Vergara decision, striking down tenure and dismissal laws in California as depriving the state’s most vulnerable students equal access to a quality education, was widely seen as a blow to the teachers union and has moved public opinion toward agreeing with change.

But when Weingarten and Deasy engaged in debate earlier this week at the Aspen Ideas Festival, instead of fireworks, they seemed to find surprising common ground.

Could this be an opportunity for consensus building? Here are some highlights:

1. Weingarten supports speedy dismissal for misconduct!
“Misconduct cases should happen within 100 days not 10 years.”  “If someone is guilty of misconduct they should not be teaching… what we did in New York, frankly, is we actually said, ‘no hearing if you are guilty of misconduct — you don’t get a tenure hearing. You’re guilty, you’re fired.'”
2. Deasy supports tenure!
“I absolutely believe in tenure. I believe that people should have a level of regard, celebration, we’re saying we want you for the rest of your career, hopefully with us, we’re investing in you. And there is a just a level of protection because you have demonstrated you have those skill sets. The issue is — not in a year, in two months — that just doesn’t make sense.”
3. Weingarten doesn’t defend California’s practice of 18 month tenure!
“I do think there’s an issue about whether two years is enough time… and frankly there have been many states that have changed it… but that doesn’t mean you throw out every single due process and fairness protection for teachers.” “Tenure was not a job for life, nor was there an excuse for managers not to manage or a cloak of incompetence.”
4. Deasy has a soft spot for organized labor!
“I will only work in an organized district. I believe in labor… I think it’s how you put the investments to use.”
5. Weingarten decries budget cuts, but implies evaluations (perhaps not only LIFO?) should be used for layoffs!
“At the end of the day, when you have a budget cut of 1,000 teachers, that’s the problem. The problem is yes, we should have real evaluation systems, and if you have people who are unsatisfactory they shouldn’t be kept, but when you have cuts of that magnitude.. THAT is the problem.”

6. Deasy in “violent agreement” with Weingarten!
“I think we agree, that is “a” problem. That is absolutely a problem. And the fact that we should be investing much more so in our most vulnerable students and the teachers who work with our most vulnerable students. Complete violent agreement. We completely agree on the issue.”

In all, the debate makes for fascinating viewing:

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