I have been an educator in our local schools for 30 years. My love for children and education has never wavered, but my knowledge of the decision-making process that determines my livelihood has heightened over time.
For my students and the stability of our schools, my professional rights matter.
This paper's Jan. 31 editorial contained many misconceptions about the misguided Vergara v. State of California lawsuit on trial now in Los Angeles seeking to undo teachers' professional and due process rights.
It stated that getting "tenure" is easy to acquire in the secondary and elementary level. Despite my 30 years in the classroom, I have never achieved tenure. In fact, tenure doesn't exist for educators in the elementary and secondary levels.
Tenure is a status that is reserved for higher education. It's a myth that teachers have a lifetime guaranteed job, when all we have is the right to due process.
What educators do achieve after temporary and probationary status is called permanent status, but all that means is that accusations must be documented, and that we have a right to defend ourselves.
Another misconception stated in the editorial is that "tenure" status is reached after 18 months. The fact of the matter is that the soonest a teacher is granted permanent status is after two years of service. During the first two years, a teacher can be released for any reason at all.
One important fact to emphasize is that nearly 50 percent of the teachers who enter into this profession quit within the first five years. Our students need a stable, experienced and high-quality teaching workforce; current laws ensure experienced teachers have a right to a hearing and are not dismissed for arbitrary or unfair reasons.
The editorial heralded the Vergara lawsuit as though it was the right direction for education. What it failed to mention is that this meritless lawsuit ignores the research that teaching experience does matter.
As an experienced teacher I have a level of expertise that increases with each year I am in the classroom. I have taught thousands of San Ramon Valley children and am confident that my experience has made a difference.
Studies show that teacher experience enhances teacher effectiveness and increases student productivity in all grades in reading and math. Layoff laws are based on experience and should continue to be for the sake of our students.
I have embraced teaching because I believe that education is the cornerstone of our democracy. What bothers me is that my profession is constantly under attack.
Teachers have been attacked in recent ballot propositions, in the media, and now we are being attacked in the courts.
Once again, the funding sources for those who are attacking teachers are coming from millionaires and billionaires whose real agenda is to privatize public schools.
Public schools serve the public. Excluding the voices of the community and real education stakeholders by using the courts to rewrite education laws and scapegoat teachers is unfair.
The exclusion of meaningful input from our parents and educators in decisions that affect education is the real agenda of the Vergara lawsuit.
Educational change occurs when all stakeholders have a voice, including parents, administrators, teachers, students and community members.
Ann Katzburg is president of the San Ramon Valley Education Association.