Language of teacher discipline bill shows Torlakson’s deceit

Language of teacher discipline bill shows Torlakson’s deceit

At a little bit after the 51-minute mark of a forum in Los Angeles last week with state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and challenger Marshall Tuck, the candidates are asked a question from the audience about the Vergara ruling, which is described as holding that state tenure laws are so harmful to low-income students that they violate the Constitution. Should the state accept the ruling, appeal it or work out a settlement in which tenure laws are amended but not scrapped?

Tuck succinctly says the state should accept the ruling and work to fix broken policies hurting students.

But when it’s Torlakson’s turn to respond, he ducks the substance of the Vergara ruling, misrepresents Gov. Jerry Brown’s position, misrepresents the legal arguments made in the state’s appeal and tells a huge whopper about the teacher discipline bill enacted this year — all in a little over a minute. Here’s my transcription of Torlakson’s comments:

We have a fundamental disagreement. I am for kids. I’m for low-income kids. I’ve been a fighter spending my whole career for those kids and their future.

I did say we should appeal that decision because I think it is fundamentally flawed. it’s wrong on the facts. It’s wrong on the law. The governor and the state board of education agreed. We’ve asked the state attorney general to file an appeal and bring it to a higher court level.

I believe job protections giving teachers a chance to have a hearing if they’re on a proposed layoff list to have them have a chance for a fair hearing having experienced teachers do that.

Teaching is a tough job. Not everybody is cut out for that work. I know that. And what we are looking at is how do we move teachers who can’t make it out of the profession faster.

And I helped with a law this year that was signed in by Governor Brown that will expedite the process of removing abusive teachers and ineffective teachers from our schools in it. It’s a tough job, but we should allow teachers to move forward and get rid of the ones who can’t make it and then the others have a chance through … we’re being cut off.


Gov. Jerry Brown did not reject the idea that tenure is bad for minority kids. In his recent debate with Neal Kashkari, he tiptoed around the issue.

In her appeal, Kamala Harris did not reject the idea that tenure is bad for minority kids. She questioned Judge Rolf Treu’s legal reasoning.

Finally, it is absurd for Torlakson to argue that a bill triggered by the difficulties Los Angeles Unified faced in firing a teacher who fed semen to his students has anything to do with targeting ineffective teachers. It’s not just absurd; it is, to use a technical term, a lie.

Here are the first three sentences of AB 215, the teacher discipline law Torlakson crows about:

Existing law prohibits a permanent school employee from being dismissed, except for one or more of certain enumerated causes, including immoral or unprofessional conduct. This bill would also include egregious misconduct, as defined, as a basis for dismissal. Existing law requires the governing board of a school district to give notice to a permanent employee of its intention to dismiss or suspend the employee, together with a written statement of charges,
at the expiration of 30 days from the date of service of the notice, unless the employee demands a hearing. This bill would additionally apply the above to egregious misconduct.

I look forward to the education beat reporters jumping on the plain evidence of Torlakson’s dishonesty. Maybe I’m naive, but I really do. The deceit is too obvious to miss or ignore.

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