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US Lawsuit Contesting Teacher Job Tenure Rules

A lawsuit in the United States is contesting long-standing teacher job tenure rules that some educational experts contend are keeping bad instructors in classrooms and make it difficult to fire them.

Nine students in California have brought suit claiming that the tenure laws kept bad teachers at their schools and blocked them from getting a quality education. The case is being heard in Los Angeles starting Monday and is expected to last several weeks.

The lawsuit was brought by a reform group called Students Matter, and funded by the founder of an optical telecommunications manufacturing firm, David Welch. He is challenging various job protections afforded teachers in California.

But the case is being watched throughout the U.S. School officials in many American communities have often found it difficult and costly to fire teachers, while teacher labor unions want to maintain laws that prohibit arbitrary firing of teachers.

Teacher tenure rules date back more than a century in the United States. But they have become controversial in recent years as local school administrators throughout the country have tried to end teacher tenure or weaken it.

The school officials have often have adopted new rules to partly evaluate teachers based on how well their students perform on standardized tests. Labor unions have often argued that such regulations are unfair. They say the family and economic background of students often weighs more heavily on their performance than the quality of their classroom instruction.

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