and higher scores. And while results are encouraging, public schools and
the laws that govern them are a work in progress that demands continued
critical attention from the legislature, teachers, unions, parents and
The overwhelming majority of teachers are skilled, caring and do an
excellent job in the classrooms. Unfortunately, education has its share
of poor and incompetent teachers who hide behind tenure, the California
law that gives teachers lifetime job security. While the tenure law has
become totally obsolete, it continues to be used as the linchpin that
protects incompetent and poor teachers in California's schools.
The Teacher Tenure Law should be abolished and replaced with more
meaningful and sensible performance standards and accountability laws
that are based on teaching quality, skill and student achievement. Now
that California has an accountability law to test and measure student
achievement, it should develop an accountability law for teachers.
Teachers and school administrators whose students do not demonstrate
reasonable achievement and skill do not deserve job security, salary
increases and lifelong job protection.
Another area of school reform that merits attention has to do with
teachers and their degree of involvement and responsibility for teaching
and learning. Good teachers should be empowered to observe, evaluate and
assist their own colleagues to become better, more successful and skilled
teachers. Teachers and their union should join hands with school boards
to develop programs to identify and assist unsuccessful teachers and to
discipline those who reflect poorly on their profession. And failing
their best effort, good teachers and their union should help school
boards get rid of poor and incompetent teachers.
School boards can stand reform in their own procedures and governance.
Board members need to hone their skills in such areas as accountability
and test results, teacher performance, district budgets, collective
bargaining, community relations, and shared decision making and
governance. And while many boards view their primary role as public
cheerleaders for their district and staff, they have a responsibility to
study issues, ask questions and make enlightened decisions. School boards
face many challenges, demands, and decisions that call for inclusion,
courage and personal sacrifice. The most effective boards are those that
reach out, listen and welcome all segments of the community to the their
There are those who believe that public education has received too
much attention and too many reforms recently. While that may be true,
education reform is a work in progress and we have much important and
necessary work ahead.
CHUCK SAMBAR is a member of the Glendale Board of Education. He can be
reached via e-mail at email@example.com.