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Tenure issue must be discussed

February 25, 2011

As the election to fill three Burbank Unified school board seats comes to an end, one issue has been completely left blowing in the wind: the tenure system, or the obtaining of permanent status as a teacher.

A generally avoided, divisive topic, the idea of tenure in our public school system is something we all need to be willing to talk about. A quick rundown of the system in California: A permanent status-holding, or tenured, public school teacher is “protected” from termination, excluding “obvious” cases of incompetence and/or misconduct.

Translation: It's going to take far more than a formal complaint to remove a teacher who's been in a classroom full time for as little as three years. For example, a student may feel verbally abused by a teacher and file a written formal complaint against them, yet still see no action taken as the teacher had contributed years of work to the school.


Tenure was originally introduced to prevent teachers from being fired on a whim, whether it be personal or political. Our state and district's current situation with tenure is bit more tricky. Current tenure laws are set as a statewide standard, disallowing local school districts a voice or decision regarding the system. As of now, tenure reform is only possible for the state as a whole, leaving school board members and district superintendents little to no say on the matter.

As a city, district and state, we need to grasp the opportunity that has presented itself, and that opportunity is Gov. Jerry Brown.

Brown campaigned around several basic principles, one of those being returning power back to local leaders. While this was focused mainly around local allocation of funds, it might be translated as a signal to our school districts as well.

Our district officials and school board members need to voice, both to us and to Brown, their desire to put the tenure system in local hands. Doing so would allow the district to decide on the matter, favorably or unfavorably.

Fighting the statewide tenure system isn't an option anymore; it's a battle that must be had. Regardless of the state or district's decision on the matter, we as citizens need to inform ourselves heavily on this issue.

If we don't, we may be turning a blind eye to bigger problem.

Brandon Batham


Neighborhood is lacking civility

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