COMMENTARY | A judge in California has agreed that the state’s teacher tenure laws violate students’ constitutional guarantee of a sound, basic education. The rationale was that California teacher tenure policies unfairly saddled poor and minority students with less effective teachers and that such teachers, who were way too hard to fire, could negatively impact those students’ future income. Now, according to the Wall Street Journal, lawsuits are prepared to crop up in other states attacking teacher tenure, with the pack led by former CNN anchor Campbell Brown. Brown has found six students in New York willing to serve as plaintiffs, opening a new battleground in the war on public school teachers.
While teacher unions have already spoken out in defense of teacher tenure in New York, I wonder why proponents of securing a sound, basic education for all children do not go after many of the real culprits of bad education. I mean, if we truly value good education for all children, why not use the power of the U.S. Constitution to really fix things? Why not point out other violations of the constitutional right to a decent education in our classrooms?
First, it is unconstitutional that misbehaving, undisciplined students are allowed back in classrooms where they disrupt the education of others. Failing to discipline students and keep classrooms free from those who disrupt the learning of others violates the constitutional rights of dedicated pupils. No student should receive a substandard education because the teacher was forced to constantly deal with troublemakers. An education stunted by classroom disruptions could cost students thousands of dollars in future annual revenue, after all.
Secondly, it is unconstitutional that grade inflation, amplified by policies like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, reduces the rigor of K-12 education and leaves students unprepared for higher education and/or the professional world. Students who never have to apply themselves to get decent grades are not properly educated and, thus, are set up for failure. It is unconstitutional that schools are punished for honestly maintaining academic rigor and not passing students who do not deserve to pass. The cycle of grade inflation unconstitutionally deprives hardworking students of their just rewards by artificially boosting the number of good grades, effectively depriving them of due income.
Third, it is unconstitutional to allow students to bring cellular phones and portable electronic devices on campus. Such devices inevitably distract from classroom instruction and student discipline, creating an unconstitutional burden on the education of pupils. All schools should, therefore, ban such devices permanently from campus. Pay phones exist and phones in administrative offices allow for student calls to parents in the event of emergency, meaning there is no undue burden in regard to student communication.
Finally, credit recovery programs are unconstitutional because they allow for students to receive a substandard education while simultaneously entrenching the unconstitutional effects of grade inflation, burdening hardworking students excessively. Credit recovery programs, which allow secondary students who fail classes to take dumbed-down, woefully inadequate substitute classes for the same credits, are often little more than computerized quizzes. Students are, therefore, unfairly tempted to undermine their own education and intentionally goof off and fail regular classes in order to get to take credit recovery classes. Why put in rigorous work in a real class when you can unconstitutionally undermine your peers’ education through disruptive goofing off and later Google your way to the same academic credit?
For the sake of America’s children, I demand that these unconstitutional burdens to a sound, basic education be removed from our school districts immediately! Anyone want to be a plaintiff?