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California Students, Parents Sue Over Teacher Firing, Tenure Rules

timothy posted about 8 months ago | from the good-work-if-you-can-get-it dept.

Education 399

The L.A. Times reports that a group of students and parents, fed up with what they see as overarching job security in California schools, are suing in the hopes of making harder for poor teachers to stay on the books. From the article: "The lawsuit, filed by the nonprofit, advocacy group Students Matter, contends that these education laws are a violation of the Constitution's equal protection guarantee because they do not ensure that all students have access to an adequate education. Vergara versus California, filed on behalf of nine students and their families, seeks to revamp a dismissal process that the plaintiffs say is too costly and time consuming, lengthen the time it takes for instructors to gain tenure and dismantle the 'last hired, first fired' policies that fail to consider teacher effectiveness. The lawsuit aims to protect the rights of students, teachers and school districts against a "gross disparity" in educational opportunity, lawyers for the plaintiffs said." Perhaps related.

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This is a scam (-1, Troll)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about 8 months ago | (#46075117)

By the capitalist wreckers who are trying to smash the unions and destroy public education.

Or do you think all those millionaires like Bill Gates and Obama who send their kids to elite private schools give a shit about public school students?

Ha ha ha ha!

What we need is COMMUNISM. We need a revolutionary workers party!

Re:This is a scam (1, Troll)

lucm (889690) | about 8 months ago | (#46075195)

By the capitalist wreckers who are trying to smash the unions and destroy public education.

Or do you think all those millionaires like Bill Gates and Obama who send their kids to elite private schools give a shit about public school students?

Interestingly, Obama always supported the all-powerful teachers union in Chicago, who managed to get working conditions so good for their members that the schools had to cut the number of teaching days to afford those gold-plated teachers. As a direct consequence, this is one of the areas in the country with the lowest ratio of college grads. Yes we can!

Re:This is a scam (3, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | about 8 months ago | (#46075317)

Interestingly, Obama always supported the all-powerful teachers union in Chicago, who managed to get working conditions so good for their members that the schools had to cut the number of teaching days to afford those gold-plated teachers.

Great sound bit, lousy argument. Any cost no matter how small would be argued by the schools as some massive threat to their ability to operate. If our kids school division had to pay for new instruments for the music room, or new text books, or turn the heat on, they'd threaten cutting the number of teaching days to pay for it. The Chicago teachers union might well be gold plated... I'm not saying it isn't, but the fact that the school "cut teaching days" to pay for it doesn't tell us anything at all about anything at all.

As a direct consequence, this is one of the areas in the country with the lowest ratio of college grads.

Doubtful. Is there any demonstrated correlation between college grads and losing a few teaching days? The teaching year isn't uniform accross states, or developed countries... even local variations such as weather related school closures, snow days, power failures, flooding, not to mention teachers strikes etc also "deprive" kids of teaching days all the time.

Has anyone linked that to college grads? Or does it turn out that in fact a school year plus or minus a week or so makes very little difference whatsoever? I betting on the latter.

Re:This is a scam (5, Informative)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 8 months ago | (#46075359)

Interestingly, Obama always supported the all-powerful teachers union in Chicago, who managed to get working conditions so good for their members that the schools had to cut the number of teaching days to afford those gold-plated teachers.

Interestingly, that seems to be completely made up.

In 2012 there were 170 teaching days for elementary school teachers. After the strike and contract negotiations there were 180 teaching days in 2013. [chicagotribune.com] High school teachers also had a 10 day increase. In both cases, the length of the work day also increased (see the same link as before).

Re:This is a scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46075463)

In 2012 the number of days and number of teaching minutes in a day in Chicago were among the lowest in the country. This change brings them closer to a realistic schedule but there's still a ways to go. It's not clear that a longer day will really help though, the problems are probably much deeper (e.g. 70% of the students coming from single parent households).

Re:This is a scam (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about 8 months ago | (#46075687)

By the capitalist wreckers who are trying to smash the unions and destroy public education.

Or do you think all those millionaires like Bill Gates and Obama who send their kids to elite private schools give a shit about public school students?

Interestingly, Obama always supported the all-powerful teachers union in Chicago, who managed to get working conditions so good for their members that the schools had to cut the number of teaching days to afford those gold-plated teachers. I cAs a direct consequence, this is one of the areas in the country with the lowest ratio of college grads. Yes we can!

I can't believe I'm the first one to reply that Correlation != causation.

Why exactly is this a direct consequence?

Re:This is a scam (1, Informative)

Xicor (2738029) | about 8 months ago | (#46075215)

you obviously dont understand what they are trying to do here. they are trying to make it harder for shit teachers to become unfireable. right now, once a professor gains tenure, it becomes ridiculously hard to fire him/her. in other words, once you gain tenure, you basically cant be fired for any reason short of breaking the law. the current regulations allow for crap teachers to continue teaching even when their students do not learn anything of value. this lawsuit is trying to change that by allowing newer professors to stay in and have the crap professors get fired first.

Re:This is a scam (5, Insightful)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 8 months ago | (#46075535)

Except professors don't teach at high schools, which is what this seems to be about.

And probably more to the point, the bigger problem is no one can agree on what a bad teacher is to be measured by beyond anecdotes. But I strongly suspect its "shouldn't have given my child a bad grade!"

Re:This is a scam (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46075559)

Uhh huh... Meanwhile in the real world there is a real teacher shortage. And a move like this sends what message? When my niece asked what do I think she should study I told her anything other than teacher. Why? Because they are under paid, over worked, glorified baby sitters having to wipe the asses of both the kids and the parents.

Re:This is a scam (5, Interesting)

winwar (114053) | about 8 months ago | (#46075865)

There is no teacher shortage.

When you hear that schools are having a difficult time getting teachers, that indicates that the school/district/state is an awful place to work.

It's not unusual for there to be five applicants for every science position. There could be 30 for an English position. It's even worse for primary education. The only place there might be a shortage is in Special Education.

Re:This is a scam (2)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 8 months ago | (#46075563)

And the tenure process is rigorous and as full of hard work as any other promotion process at any company or organization. They don't just hand tenure out to anyone - most teachers already have to work for years to even qualify, and then they have to submit a huge portfolio and be approved by the county or university. All it does in reality is negate the "right-to-work" state laws which allow anyone to be arbitrarily fired for any reason.

Re:This is a scam (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 8 months ago | (#46075597)

> And the tenure process is rigorous and as full of hard work as any other promotion process at any company or organization.

In what other industry can I get a sweet deal like that? It doesn't matter how talented or charming I am, my current position is effectively temporary. It's the same for pretty much everyone else too (except for teachers).

Dangerous... (5, Insightful)

broken_chaos (1188549) | about 8 months ago | (#46075147)

While in rare cases job security is a problematic issue due to incompetence (or worse, in extreme cases), stripping away job security typically creates even more, worse problems in the long term with an even faster race-to-the-bottom. If this succeeds, they could find themselves, instead, fighting against the school board hiring cheap, less-competent or less-experienced teachers because they can get rid of the expensive, experienced ones quickly and easily.

Also, teachers are, in most places, unionized (the article doesn't seem to mention if California teachers are or not). Go against the union in such a drastic manner and you may find yourself with a widespread strike on your hands.

Re:Dangerous... (4, Informative)

bhcompy (1877290) | about 8 months ago | (#46075187)

California teachers are unionized under the California Teachers Association, which is the first or second most powerful union in the state. The other most powerful union is the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (prison guards).

Re:Dangerous... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46075313)

As a Californian born into a family of ex-military public educators, I love to rant about these types of discussions when they come up. First of all, why is the Teacher's Union demonized here but the prison guards or border guards' union is not? Food for thought.

Second of all, all you parents in the room, all this bitching about poor teachers is a pretty recent thing, and it coincides with the emergence of a few things - The first is that you are no longer doing your jobs as fucking parents, letting your kids do whatever the fuck they want without discipline and demanding that they be allowed to dress like whores and use cell phones in class for "safety" reasons in case one of your otherwise right-thinking kids you addled up with psychotropic drugs because of a bullshit "ADD" diagnosis when, again, you decided real parenting was too hard and thought your kid was crazy for wanting to play outside and not stuck to the fucking X-Box for 12 hours a day.

Since you won't do your job of disciplining your rotten drugged-up shits, they disrupt the class many ways including nonstop use of the cell phones you bitched and moaned about letting them take into the classroom and wearing see-though leggings with no underwear as they give presentations to the class. Teachers are powerless to take any action because of litigation-happy yuppie parents ("My little Billy's an angel! He would never say a thing like that to a teacher!) and the spineless and often unqualified MBA-style administrators who don't back the teachers up.

Your children are fucking doomed, new parents, and it's all your fucking fault. Stop blaming the teachers and look in the fucking mirror.

-- Ethanol-fueled

Re:Dangerous... (3, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | about 8 months ago | (#46075421)

Second of all, all you parents in the room, all this bitching about poor teachers is a pretty recent thing, and it coincides with the emergence of a few things - The first is that you are no longer doing your jobs as fucking parents, letting your kids do whatever the fuck they want without discipline and demanding that they be allowed to dress like whores and use cell phones in class for "safety" reasons in case one of your otherwise right-thinking kids you addled up with psychotropic drugs because of a bullshit "ADD" diagnosis when, again, you decided real parenting was too hard and thought your kid was crazy for wanting to play outside and not stuck to the fucking X-Box for 12 hours a day.

Really? If I had a teacher who said something like you just said, I'd want him fired too.

Re:Dangerous... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46075495)

It's important to suppress the truth. Shoot the messenger rather than analyzing the message. We can't bear it!

Re:Dangerous... (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 8 months ago | (#46075645)

My high school English teacher would give that "family of teachers" guy an F.

He taught us about proper rhetoric. I shudder to think what those "professionals" are doing in class.

Also, I've thought teachers are idiots pretty much forever. This includes elementary school. So it's no new thing by any stretch.

The other stuff (including money) doesn't matter so much. Parents do need to be involved. Teachers likely may not like it though.

Re:Dangerous... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46075431)

If they are parents with children, then they are "doing your jobs as fucking parents"! Unless they grow children in test tubes.

Re:Dangerous... (3, Interesting)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 8 months ago | (#46075441)

First of all, why is the Teacher's Union demonized here but the prison guards or border guards' union is not?

Uhh ... the California prison guards union is very heavily demonized, especially about their financing of campaigns to build more prisons and mandate harsher sentences. But they are usually not demonized by the same people. This is because the teachers unions donate to the Democrats and the guard unions donate to the Republicans. People don't like to demonize the hand that feeds them.

Re:Dangerous... (1)

bhcompy (1877290) | about 8 months ago | (#46075511)

And in the end, the unions serve each other, as they allow themselves to carve out 2 of the 3 highest portions of the budget in the state without stepping on each others toes.

Re:Dangerous... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46075723)

I bet they could do even more if they worked together, let's think of the possibilities of making schools failure factories, so that there are more prisoners, who will need some education so they can look like something is being done...

Umm no (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46075621)

A little Googling indicates the prison guard union in CA gives twice as much to Democrats as Republicans, and spends much more than that on ballot initiatives.

Re:Dangerous... (4, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | about 8 months ago | (#46075679)

> First of all, why is the Teacher's Union demonized here but the prison guards or border guards' union is not?

Who is going to complain about prison guards? Felons?

Out of sight, out of mind...

Teachers, on the other hand, will be coming into contact with plenty of respectable types like voters and homeowners and small business owners.

No one cares if the prisons fail to rehabilitate people. Felons have already been written off by society. The same can't be said of schools and teachers.

Re:Dangerous... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46075443)

They're doomed to become adults who can't utter or write two sentences without using the F-bomb multiple times, like the above critic.

Re:Dangerous... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46075455)

That's exactly what poor teachers do - they put their inability to teach onto the parents. "It's your fault", "You don't raise your kids the right way", "Your kid can't learn" Or they try to say it is the environments fault. "There is too many kids in the classroom", "We don't have any money for that". Boo, fucking hoo. Shit-can lousy teachers and you *will* see better educated kids. So obvious.

Re:Dangerous... (2)

penix1 (722987) | about 8 months ago | (#46075647)

Shit-can lousy teachers and you *will* see better educated kids. So obvious.

Or no teachers at all since it really doesn't pay to be a teacher in that rotten environment. There already is a teacher shortage across the country. So you don't mind having to ship your kids 30-40 miles because the school you were sending them to had to close due to no teachers right? Don't think it can happen? Here in my state they consolidated 7 schools because of that.

Re:Republican Party (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46075585)

Prison guards or border guards' union supported the Republican Party in the past...!

Re:Dangerous... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46075605)

Most of what you put in your rant is 100% correct though a little misguided. HOWEVER, it doesn't excuse the fucking pathetic disasters that pass themselves off as teachers. Just because parents are fucking up badly doesn't mean all other ills can be ignored, teachers most definitely deserve there share of the blame and they too need to take a good hard look in the mirror, though I suspect many of the really bad ones don't give a shit and are fully aware of how bad they are.

Re:Dangerous... (5, Insightful)

codepigeon (1202896) | about 8 months ago | (#46075653)

"Second of all, all you parents in the room .... pointless stereotyping and rage ...."

I am a parent in this room. My son is nothing like that. I would say that I don't know any of the kids in his school are like you describe. Those stereotype that people like to throw around are just bullshit. They are probably the same things people said about you when you were in school; and its just as invalid now, as it was then.

What IS different know, is a concerted 'attack?' on PUBLIC school teachers. I am not sure why. My sister is a third grade teacher, I assume she does a good job. She is however, dirt poor because of low pay and still ends up buying her own room supplies. I am not sure why anyone would want to be a public school teacher these days. Maybe thats the goal.

Why don't you look in the mirror and ask yourself why you like to think and write about whore school girls in see through leggings with no underwear.

Re:Dangerous... (4, Insightful)

KalvinB (205500) | about 8 months ago | (#46075719)

Because the average person doesn't have to suffer the consequences of the prison system?

The real problem is, you are right and the anti-union people are right. Last hired - first fired policies do nothing to protect quality teachers. And policy that doesn't consider the teacher is a policy that has no interest in the educational quality being provided by a school. The work environment that administrators continue to force teachers to work in with miserable pay do nothing to attract high quality educators. And the result is a miserable education system.

The unions fought for the 40 hour work week back in the day and the alleged teacher "unions" force teachers to work unreasonable hours for unreasonable pay.

Funny how businesses that attract competent talent don't require union protections to keep their employees around.

Re:Dangerous... (3, Informative)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 8 months ago | (#46075877)

First of all, why is the Teacher's Union demonized here but the prison guards or border guards' union is not? Food for thought.

Food for thought? No, not at all. It just shows how deeply biased you are and how tightly your blinders fit that you can't see why. Seriously, pretty much everyone has at least one completely crappy teacher and one ancient past-their-prime marking-time-to-retirement teacher over the course of the travels from K-12. We demonize the teacher's union because they enable and tacitly condone such things.
 

Second of all, all you parents in the room, all this bitching about poor teachers is a pretty recent thing

No, it's not. It goes back at least as far as when I was a kid in the 70's - long before cell phones, widespread 'drugging up', or home video game systems.
 

Stop blaming the teachers and look in the fucking mirror.

While I agree the parents should shoulder their portion of the blame, you need to get out of your echo chamber and into the real world.

Re:Dangerous... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46075209)

stripping away job security typically creates even more, worse problems in the long term with an even faster race-to-the-bottom.

Citation needed.

Go against the union in such a drastic manner and you may find yourself with a widespread strike on your hands.

You're making a profoundly good case for the abolition of all unions. Our children and our future ought not be held hostage to these thugs.

Re:Dangerous... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46075253)

What make teachers so special? No other group (none that I can think of anyway) has tenure. If you suck at your job you are replaced. Unions would hate that, but they're on the retreat anyway - even in the public sector which is their last holdout. And getting rid of more experienced (higher paid) employees is an entirely different topic (age discrimination, etc).

Re:Dangerous... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46075747)

Very few other groups could be fired by political pressure of their research. If professors in, say, Texas, didn't have tenure, then you can be that Rick Perry would have anyone mentioning evolution fired.

Re: Dangerous... (1)

glennrrr (592457) | about 8 months ago | (#46075845)

Do you really think this? Or do you have to resort to hyperbole to defend a dysfunctional system.

Re:Dangerous... (4, Insightful)

Nite_Hawk (1304) | about 8 months ago | (#46075809)

You aren't thinking very hard. Judges are the same.

Teachers and professors have controversial jobs and once they've (theoretically) proven themselves to be competent, tenure is supposed to protect them from outside influences just like we try to protect our judges. We (at least once upon a time) deemed academic freedom to be so valuable that we'd suffer some teachers milking their tenure for the benefit that all of the others could teach our society to the best of their ability without fear of retribution.

Now we under pay our teachers, force them to follow standardized curriculum and testing, and even try to ban subjects that aren't compatible with existing societal beliefs regardless of academic rigor. In a world where teachers are underpaid and have little freedom to teach to anything but a standardized test, tenure probably is worthless. It wasn't always so though, and I for one think we are worse off because of it.

Re:Dangerous... (2, Insightful)

bloodhawk (813939) | about 8 months ago | (#46075343)

You honestly believe they could find less-competent teachers? the current system is an abomination that has come from unions having too much power and the system being too weak to fight back when they have demanded insane conditions. Tenure should NOT exist full stop. The primary concern of the education system should be the students and the current system sacrifices the students in favour of the teachers. Now it isn't all teachers that are bad, but not being able to get rid of the rotten apples makes the whole batch stink.

Re:Dangerous... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46075661)

If you are against tenure, you are against the following: the right to bargain, contracts, due process, and property rights. "Tenure" really is just a property right in a contract that requires due process to take away. It's not difficult to fire crappy teachers. Districts do that all the time. You just have to follow a process and give the teacher an opportunity to improve before the firing.

If it's a serious issue, then you file a complaint against the teacher's license. They can't teach without it. That trumps a contract and tenure.

If you find poor teachers, you will find poor administrators and poor school board members.

Re:Dangerous... (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 8 months ago | (#46075691)

Tenure as property?

You're really running off the rails there. You will convince NO ONE of anything with that kind of argument.

Well, nothing positive anyways...

Re:Dangerous... (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 8 months ago | (#46075709)

Your batshit crazy comments are very illuminating and quite informative if they actually represent the mindset of real teachers.

If true, it's little wonder things are so messed up.

Re:Dangerous... (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 8 months ago | (#46075707)

Starts in the education schools. They have been a bad joke for decades.

But that brings up the catch-22, only the _worst_ students become teachers, because teachers complain so much about their pay (which is actually better then fair). Those bottom of the barrel kids get 3.9 averages at education schools. Without cracking a book.

Re:Dangerous... (5, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 8 months ago | (#46075411)

While in rare cases job security is a problematic issue due to incompetence

It is NOT rare. 90% of teachers are competent and conscientious. But about 1 in 10 needs to go, and 1 in 10 is not "rare". Nearly every kid will have one or more incompetent teachers during K-12. Both of my kids have had bad teachers. My daughters 7th grade science teacher spoke English so poorly that the kids could not understand her. So she assigned each student a chapter to teach. For the rest of the semester they taught each other, while the teacher sat in the back of the room and watched Youtube videos. Many parents complained about the situation, but that was several years ago, and she is still "teaching". It is absurd that someone like that continues to be employed at taxpayer expense.

There was a recent report [urban.org] that estimated that a bad teacher can cause $250k/year in economic damage when you consider the lost future earning potential of the ill educated students.

My experiences (3, Interesting)

raftpeople (844215) | about 8 months ago | (#46075529)

My experiences: each of my 3 kids encountered two completely ineffective/incompetent teachers in junior high and zero in elementary and high school (although we were aware of 1 in elementary that we fortunately did not have to deal with).

It wasn't that many but the level of incompetence was astounding and nothing could be done.

Re:My experiences (3, Informative)

winwar (114053) | about 8 months ago | (#46075715)

I'm sorry but the statement that "nothing could be done" is a lie.

If the teachers were truly ineffective or incompetent, then you should have complained to the school's administrators and insisted that your students be removed. That is your right. If they refused, then you take the issue to the school board. If that doesn't work, you file a complaint with the state (and also against the teachers license if you actually have evidence).

If you failed to do that, it indicates to me that maybe the teachers really weren't that bad. Because if you did nothing despite knowing there was a problem, you are part of it. When you find ineffective teachers you also have ineffective administrators and schools boards. You can't have one without the other.

Try it, it does not work! Re:My experiences (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46075855)

complained twice about outrageously bad teachers.

One went into screaming rages periodically with 4th graders.

One sent kids outside in near-freezing windy weather in shorts and T-shirts, had ridiculously unfair grading, harassed us with idiotic requests (all documented btw)..

Nothing happened to them. They are both still teaching.

That's in CA btw..

> When you find ineffective teachers you also have ineffective administrators and schools boards.

Bullshit. The cases above were the consequence of teacher unions. Period. Administration agreed with us in both cases, but they could not do anything....

It pretty much takes a criminal charge against a teacher to get union to cooperate with administration.....

Re:My experiences (2, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 8 months ago | (#46075871)

I'm sorry but the statement that "nothing could be done" is a lie.

Baloney. I have personally complained about bad teachers, and I know other parents that have as well. I have NEVER heard of a teacher fired for incompetence, or anything other than blatant criminal behavior.

If the teachers were truly ineffective or incompetent, then you should have complained to the school's administrators and insisted that your students be removed. That is your right. If they refused, then you take the issue to the school board. If that doesn't work, you file a complaint with the state (and also against the teachers license if you actually have evidence).

Can you cite a single example of any of these things resulting in a California teacher being fired?

If you failed to do that, it indicates to me that maybe the teachers really weren't that bad.

This is an idiotic statement. That is like saying that global warming isn't a "real" problem because if it was you would have personally volunteered to stop breathing. The fact that I haven't dedicated my entire life to firing a single teacher doesn't mean that teacher "isn't that bad".

But let's assume your claim is true: that a group of parents really could get a teacher fired if they are willing to dedicated hundreds of hours of effort. Should we really set our standards so low that a teacher is only fired if they are so egregiously bad that parents are willing to do that?

Re:Dangerous... (2)

Carl Corey (3023389) | about 8 months ago | (#46075629)

Once when I was in 10th grade, I copied an equation I saw in a Superboy comic book. I showed it to my math teacher and asked what it meant. His response? "That's Calculus. I don't know." Granted, he probably meant: "That's Calculus. I don't want to waste my time explaining it to a 10th grade Algebra student." but either way it was the wrong thing to say. This was 1966. It's not a new issue.

Re:Dangerous... (4, Insightful)

femtobyte (710429) | about 8 months ago | (#46075783)

I had my run-in with the occasional terrible teacher, who should not have been teaching. I also had some really excellent teachers, who can be credited with a large portion of my success in life. Guess who gets driven out first when working conditions are made increasingly shitty? When teachers are underpaid, overworked, disrespected by management, then the ones who are best (combination of academic excellence and natural leadership) will eventually burn out on their altruism and take one of the many much higher paying jobs that they are more than qualified for. The ones who are petty authoritarian teach-to-the-test dimwits, with no prospects for better employment, stick around forever. Unions aren't keeping the bad teachers in --- self-serving slimeballs will cling on no matter what, and will gladly game the system to look good on a shallow management-driven metrics system. Unions are keeping the good teachers in, giving people a rewarding professional career.

Suing won't help (2, Insightful)

bhcompy (1877290) | about 8 months ago | (#46075155)

The union negotiated contracts are designed this way to protect the union members that have paid the most dues. This is common across the board with union contracts. The unions care about the union members first, then the job itself, even though the individual union members may have different priorities. I'm not saying this is bad or wrong, as looking out for your own is generally a noble thing, but it's something that the courts have supported for forever and it's unlikely to change anytime soon.

Re:Suing won't help (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46075223)

The union negotiated contracts are designed this way to protect the union members that have paid the most dues. This is common across the board with union contracts ... The unions care about the union members first, then the job itself ...

Which is precisely why the education of those who will inherit our future shouldn't be left up to the whims of self-serving narcissistic union leaders.

Re:Suing won't help (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about 8 months ago | (#46075377)

The union negotiated contracts are designed this way to protect the union members that have paid the most dues.

Tell that to the GM, Ford and Chysler employees who had their collective agreements null and voided by states, provinces and federal governments. Just because you think that's what'll happen it doesn't mean it always will. And in the case of the automakers, those cases are still before the courts.

Re:Suing won't help (4, Insightful)

bhcompy (1877290) | about 8 months ago | (#46075459)

And that was an unprecedented show of government authority when it happened. It is highly highly unusual, and generally requires intervention from the highest level, such as when Reagan told the aircontrollers' union to fuck off

Re:Suing won't help (4, Interesting)

couchslug (175151) | about 8 months ago | (#46075407)

There is FAR more to union protection of teachers than featherbedding.

The people to blame for many school problems and whose effect is largely ignored in the current debate are school administrations.

Here's a classic written by a (now retired) terrific science teacher who fought the Rutherford, NJ, administration over how they tested students and won in court after a protracted struggle. Steve Masone greatly inspired many of his students, self included. He had the guts to take on a pretty toxic administration when he could have just coasted and sacrificed his students instead.

http://www.hammerofchalk.com/ [hammerofchalk.com]

The administrators concerned retired comfortably without consequences to their careers.

Re:Suing won't help (2)

winwar (114053) | about 8 months ago | (#46075733)

I'm curious why no one ever mentions the school board. You know, the ones that negotiate and approve the contracts?

If these contracts are so bad, why exactly are these people given a pass?

You cannot have poor teachers without poor administrators and a poor school board.

Tenure is BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46075179)

However, if it's written into the contract, how can you not honor it. The fault lies with those who agreed to it in the first place, and rather than trying to use the courts to get rid of it (which seems to be becoming more and more common), change the laws or change the contract the next time it's up. Equal protection clause seems like a pretty weak case to me, as the kids could simply be sent to a different school or home schooled. I guess it does serve to put the issue in the spotlight, if nothing else. I had an algebra teacher in high school who was drunk half the time, and when he wasn't he was a grouch and sometimes would snooze during class.

Re:Tenure is BS (5, Insightful)

Polo (30659) | about 8 months ago | (#46075235)

I thought tenure was a way to keep administrators from messing with academic freedom. Without it teachers would "follow the party line" and never research or teach anything controversial.

Re:Tenure is BS (4, Insightful)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about 8 months ago | (#46075519)

Since when have k-12 teachers been researchers?

Re:Tenure is BS (2)

Calavar (1587721) | about 8 months ago | (#46075575)

Tenure makes plenty of sense for college professors who had to work very hard to get it. (6 years doing the PhD, plus 3 - 4 years as a postdoc, years more as an adjunct, then anywhere from 5 - 10 as assistant professor, all the time having to be the very best or risk falling to the wayside.) And they do research. It is the research more than the teaching that needs to be free of administrators and that is what makes tenure useful. (Of course that doesn't happen in practice -- the NSF, the DoD, and other federal agencies dictate what gets researched, but I digress.)

Tenure is absolute BS for grade school teaches who all to often get it in just three or four years of mediocre work. And it doesn't do anything to ensure academic freedom because they just teach to the pre-defined state curriculum and often take lesson plans straight from the textbook because they are too lazy to do anything more substantial. No, tenure in grade schools only serves to protect incompetence.

Re:Tenure is BS (1)

Calavar (1587721) | about 8 months ago | (#46075591)

*teachers who all too often.

Haven't had my sleep today, sorry.

Re:Tenure is BS (2)

couchslug (175151) | about 8 months ago | (#46075683)

It was and still is.

I had an outstanding science teacher who resisted nonsensical, counter-productive standardised testing in Rutherford, NJ, and had the statistics to back up his contention. He could have caved in to the educrats and sold out his students, but he had the exemplary integrity to fight instead at considerable personal and social cost.

The school board tried to throw him under the proverbial bus, but he sued and eventually won. Without strong teacher representation he'd have been fired and many kids would have lost out both to the testing regime and by missing a stellar teacher.

http://www.nea.org/home/41892.... [nea.org]

Re:Tenure is BS (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 8 months ago | (#46075763)

Simple version: Tenure allows an exceptional teacher to defy authority and do what needs to be done.

An argument not likely to be employed generally but certainly more compelling than "tenure is property".

Re:Tenure is BS (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 8 months ago | (#46075267)

if it's written into the contract, how can you not honor it.

You can have a judge rule that the contract is illegal. Which is what they're trying to do.

about damn time (1)

turkeydance (1266624) | about 8 months ago | (#46075191)

see: Leandro decision in NC. Of equal significance, the Supreme Court ruled that the State of North Carolina, not local school districts, has the ultimate constitutional obligation to actively safeguard and successfully deliver every child's Leandro right. No exceptions. No excuses. link: https://law.duke.edu/childedla... [duke.edu]

Tenure? (5, Insightful)

benjfowler (239527) | about 8 months ago | (#46075199)

Sorry, did I read that correctly?

Tenure? In state-funded primary and secondary schools? In a country as brutally meritocratic as the US?

Tenure is meant to promote academic freedom and allow brilliant scientists with a proven track record to express potentially unpopular idea.

It's not meant as lifelong guaranteed employment for people who can't cut it in the real world.

Any idea that seniority should come ahead of ability is fucking bullshit anywhere, but especially when educating our youth. Japan does this, and it's a fucking basketcase. We are better than that.

Re:Tenure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46075283)

The sins of the father are passed to the child.

You can blame politicians and the dismal state of the education system in the '40-'60s for that. Much like the retirement packages of American automakers, tenure was a way of sweetening the deal between teachers and school in exchange of higher salaries/benefits without consideration of the long-term costs.

Saying that teachers should be suddenly stripped of their tenure status/benefits is the same as stockholders saying that CEOs should be stripped of their golden parachutes. People knew damned well what they were getting into, kicked the can down the road and now someone has to pay the piper.

Re:Tenure? (4, Insightful)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 8 months ago | (#46075417)

Saying that teachers should be suddenly stripped of their tenure status/benefits is the same as stockholders saying that CEOs should be stripped of their golden parachutes.

Umm, no it isn't.

Nobody forced you to buy stock. The government IS forcing you to pay for these teachers.

People knew damned well what they were getting into, kicked the can down the road and now someone has to pay the piper.

People that arent paying for it now, kicked that can down that road. It was wrong of them to do it.

Now tell me which is worse?

A) Violating their contracts by firing some teachers that happen to be fucking up our children.
B) Forcing people that had no say whatsoever in the matter to honor a contract that they never would have agreed to had it been their decision.

The problem with public sector unions and these "in the future" provisions is that none of the people at the negotiating table have to face the consequences they are negotiating over. None of them have to face the consequences so long as we continue to say that the contract must be honored above all else.

I say fuck that, the contract was immediately void because the contract imposed an obligation on unrepresented people (people that werent even born yet, in fact.) The people still around who are in the greatest position to have known the injustice of such a contract if upheld and could have made choices about it are precisely those teachers with tenure, yet they chose to try to benefit from that very injustice for which we are discussing. They neither deserve nor should they entertain the protection of law on this matter at all, yet here they are trying desperately to use the law as a weapon against innocent people so that they themselves can benefit. Fuck them. Fuck them. Fuck them.

Re:Tenure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46075309)

Tenure is meant to promote academic freedom and allow brilliant scientists with a proven track record to express potentially unpopular idea.

It's not meant as lifelong guaranteed employment for people who can't cut it in the real world.

You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means.

Academics are just as guilty of mis-using tenure as anyone in the real world. To imply the correlation of brilliant scientist with tenure is a very dangerous assumption, even at top universities. The worst examples revolve around maintaining faculty diversity, but senior tenured professors are just as likely to lose touch as they are to continue to develop their track record. Never mind the concept that brilliant scientists could somehow cut it in the real world. At least this is true in my reasonably-qualified experience. YMMV...

Re:Tenure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46075333)

It's actually worse than that. At the University level, tenured positions are hard to get. In US primary and secondary schools, ALL TEACHING POSITIONS are tenured. And there is no "tenure review." If you make it 2 years without getting fired, you have tenure.

I had teachers who were in their last year before retirement twice. Neither of them gave a shit. I have no idea how long they had been slacking, but I hope it was only in their last year or two.

Re:Tenure? (2)

isorox (205688) | about 8 months ago | (#46075457)

Sorry, did I read that correctly?

Tenure? In state-funded primary and secondary schools? In a country as brutally meritocratic as the US?

Who was the last poor president?

Re:Tenure? (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 8 months ago | (#46075671)

Harry Truman.

Re:Tenure? (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 8 months ago | (#46075753)

LBJ made all his money on government graft. He started dirt poor.

Re:Tenure? (3, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | about 8 months ago | (#46075805)

> Who was the last poor president?

Both Obama and Clinton qualify. Reagan might qualify too.

Meritocracy means that you can be born poor and become rich or a member of what currently passes for the aristocracy.

It's the ideal of Andrew Carnegie.

Someone mentioned Truman. Eisenhower also came from a precarious working class background.

Re:Tenure? (1)

fermion (181285) | about 8 months ago | (#46075599)

Tenure in higher education reflects an ability to publish. It reflects a freedom to do research,to work with young people and develop them into future educators, researchers, and leaders.

Tenure in other education setting working with people who are not adults. Teachers are rewarded for connecting with kids, not called an African American child the n-word as a principle recently did, have a week of lesson plans every week for the entirety of your career, showing up to work on time every day for the entirety of you career(and no this is not always mandated, I have had many jobs where my showing up to work time was somewhere between 8-10)), and not going out a getting drunk and posting it on instagram. Most people would make ok teachers in terms of presenting content and the like. What makes a great teacher, what most students wants, it someone who can make them feel special and make them feel motivated and make them learn. Frankly, most kids will only learn when pressured.

So why all this attack on tenure. Well, in some cases teachers who are not so good will get into the system, and if your child is with one of these teachers, and if your child is doing badly, you will attack the teacher instead of looking at the child. The teacher, for instance, might not be able to control a class, and your child might take advantage of that. Rather than disciplining the child, it is simpler to blame the teacher.

In other case it is the work of administrators. The more teachers one needs to hire every year, the more inexperienced teachers are in a school system, the more young teachers you have who need supervision, the more administrators can be justified. So school leadership convinces parents that everything is going to hell in a hand basket, and viola, a new layer of PHB are created, educational consultants who are friends of the administration are called in at $10,000 a day, and everyone is happy. Except for the students who now have less experienced teachers in front of larger classes.

The real problem here is that we have a generation of parent who believe that an high school diploma will magically get kids in a good college with will magically get them a good job. That somehow the state can magically create conditions where their child can be fully educated without parent conditioning of the student to be a learner. Where somehow whining to an authority figure will fix problem in ourselves. Yes, school is a fundamental part of what gives US children a special opportunity int he world, and teachers are a critical part of that. But what we need are a more diverse group of teachers that reflect a large toolbox of what is possible in teaching, and a core of experienced teachers that can help the younger teachers find their way. This lawsuit is about making every teacher into a cookie cutter copy of what some people think teachers should be. When I llok back at my schooling, my teachers were all different. Some might have even been fired under current expectation because they gave us activities to explore instead of always telling us what to do or who to do it, or that it was wrong because it did not conform with rules.

Re:Tenure? (5, Interesting)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 8 months ago | (#46075703)

Tenure? In state-funded primary and secondary schools? In a country as brutally meritocratic as the US?

Well, let me tell you of a couple of situations in my hometown in which tenure saved teachers' job.

The first teacher in question taught history, and one of his elective courses was focused on radical protest movements from 1950-1975. The thing was that many conservative elements in town wanted the course to not exist, or at the very least state quite clearly that all the radical protest movements were because of spies from the USSR. They had the ear of the dyed-in-wool conservative mayor, who in this city's structure was also the chair of the school board. They tried several tactics to fire him, including trying to convince the union to accept some nice cash benefits if they allowed a provision in the contract to create a process for firing teachers that were presenting content "detrimental to the community" or similar nonsense. The teacher continued to teach until his retirement, which allowed students to learn about that period in US history in a way that neither their textbooks nor their parents were really showing them.

The second teacher in question was the advisor of the award-winning school paper. Said award-winning school paper did some investigative journalism and discovered some not-nice things about an assistant superintendent, which they duly published. The assistant superintendent reacted by driving to the school, barging into the paper office, and almost physically threatening the student editor who happened to be there at the time. The paper of course duly reported on this incident in their next issue, so the assistant superintendent went to the advisor and demanded that the advisor give the entire editorial board suspensions for insubordination or some-such. The advisor refused, so the assistant superintendent immediately tried to get him fired.

So yes, tenure can and does matter, even for primary and secondary teachers.

Re:Tenure? (2)

winwar (114053) | about 8 months ago | (#46075779)

It would help if you would understand what tenure is and what it is not in state funded primary and secondary schools. That does require some knowledge, however

If you are against "tenure" you oppose the following: the right to bargain, contracts, due process, and property rights.

It has little or nothing to do with: seniority, lifelong guaranteed employment, academic freedom.

Furthermore, the US is not very meritocratic. If you think it is, you are deeply ignorant. For one thing, I couldn't largely predict student achievement and success by looking at income.

Furthermore, if you consider the US education system better than Japan, what exactly is the problem with the current system?

Re:Tenure? (0)

jedidiah (1196) | about 8 months ago | (#46075835)

> If you are against "tenure" you oppose the following: the right to bargain, contracts, due process, and property rights.

You need to stop repeating this communist nonsense. It's not helping.

Turn arounds fair play (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46075201)

if when you as parents fail to live up to your responsibilities the teacher can have your child permanently removed from class because they are there to teach and not babysit?

Re:Turn arounds fair play (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 8 months ago | (#46075757)

Long sense accomplished. Called 'continuation school'.

Teachers Never Get Fired (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46075211)

I had a teacher who used to turn up 20 minutes late to every lesson, teach for ten minutes and then do her own then for the rest of the lesson leaving the class to get on with it.

The entire class went to complain about her to both the head of maths and the school head. Absolutely nothing happened and she continued with her usual routine.

She wasn't even trying to do her job, but it seems the effectiveness, competence or dedication of a teacher can never be questioned.

Re:Teachers Never Get Fired (4, Informative)

codepigeon (1202896) | about 8 months ago | (#46075713)

I had a teacher who was a minotaur. We complained to the superintendant but he wouldn't do anything.

He would show up 20 minutes late, shit all over the floor, and complain about the humans who tresspass in his forest.

He wasn't even trying to do his job, but I guess competence or dedication of a teacher can never be questioned.

This is a true story. Its on the internet so you know its true.

Re:Teachers Never Get Fired (1)

Nemyst (1383049) | about 8 months ago | (#46075863)

At least with a Minotaur you can lock it up in a labyrinth. Not so with an incompetent teacher.

Who is funding Students Matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46075285)

I would love to know where the money is coming from.

Biased Idea From Onset (5, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 8 months ago | (#46075301)

It's easy to talk of "bad teachers" and say that unions keep them employed. But the truth is that "bad teachers" are the minority. Unions keep more "good teachers" employed at a livable wage than "bad teachers".

It is normal that the minority get the spotlight, just as it is normal that the Chihuahua barks the loudest.

Re: Biased Idea From Onset (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46075349)

Getting rid of bad teachers is only a small part of school reform. Enhancing the role of the principal as a "coach" rather than a paperwork pusher, disciplinarian, or fund raiser is first. Establishing a pro-success culture and proscriptive rules & cirriculum is next. Then when you have effective prinicipals helping teachers to do their best job, you may need to fire the worst teachers who won't play ball.

Re: Biased Idea From Onset (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 8 months ago | (#46075551)

Enhancing the role of the principal as a "coach" rather than a paperwork pusher, disciplinarian, or fund raiser is first.

Like this "Principal"?

http://nypost.com/2014/01/16/s... [nypost.com]

Principals work for the Administration and whatever political flavor the current Administration is pushing. Good teachers work for the students, because they enjoy teaching and see a value in making chuildren smarter.

Of course if you have a religious ("Intelligent Design") bent or a politically correct bent (one must never admit that "Negro" was a word spoken in the English language - http://www.theroot.com/article... [theroot.com] ), a heavy handed Principle is a good thing.

Re:Biased Idea From Onset (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46075467)

I have some sympathy for people who believe that last-hired, first-fired policies as a rule don't address employee competence issues. They explicitly have little to do with competence or fitness for a job. If such is genuinely policy in California then they have at least a little bit of a mildly-valid point.

That said this is a red-herring: The main cause of public educational disparity in California and the US is wildly varying school funding. The second cause is wildly varying expectations and participation of the community and establishment in that pubic education.

Re:Biased Idea From Onset (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 8 months ago | (#46075875)

> The main cause of public educational disparity in California and the US is wildly varying school funding.

You are making the classical statistical error. You're confusing correlation with causation.

The real problem is that many parents aren't motivated. They don't care. This also correlates nicely with income and school spending. The parents that care are the ones that prepared themselves better for the world. They valued education as children or had parents that valued their education.

This is the rationale behind self-selected "magnate" schools in less rich school districts. They isolate the children of parents that give a damn from hooligans and thugs at their normal schools.

Throwing money at people who don't care or their children won't accomplish anything.

Suing the wrong party (0)

SageMusings (463344) | about 8 months ago | (#46075415)

Even as a casual observer, it is easy to see the broad problem is bad parenting and awful students. Sure, there will always be people in the bottom 10% of any profession; some teachers may need to be removed. My assertion is parents have more control over their child's education. It is their responsibility to ensure their kids are putting in the requisite time studying and preparing. It is every child's responsibility to at least strive to improve themselves.

You cannot legislate or litigate success in life for people who do not accept any responsibility to themselves.

Also, I have my suspicions this could also lead to more damage to unions. Unions -- on occasion -- can benefit society.

Re:Suing the wrong party (0)

bloodhawk (813939) | about 8 months ago | (#46075667)

You cannot legislate or litigate success in life for people who do not accept any responsibility to themselves.

That is true and is an excellent argument for getting rid of tenure. Teachers should not have protection in place that removes responsibility from themselves to perform.

Also, I have my suspicions this could also lead to more damage to unions. Unions -- on occasion -- can benefit society.

I think this is a clear cut case where Unions are actually doing the damage to society and shows a need to reduce the power they have. The unions have really overstepped the bounds of reasonableness here, though it is also the governments fault for allowing this to happen in the first place, Unions are designed to be greedy selfish institutions whose goals are to benefit there members regardless of the consequences to others or the society in general.

Re:Suing the wrong party (1)

winwar (114053) | about 8 months ago | (#46075825)

Please explain how getting rid of due process and property rights will improve teaching? Why should teachers not be protected by the Constitution? That's what you are advocating when you "tenure" should be abolished.

You are aware that teachers are evaluated every year? That new and more rigorous evaluation systems are being implemented? That if they are not proficient (a pretty high bar) they can be removed?

If poor teachers are in the classroom then the administration and the school board (and hence the voters) are not doing their job.

Re:Suing the wrong party (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46075869)

WTF? how is removing tenure suddenly stopping them being protected by the constitution? reaching much? why should teachers have tenure? what possible reasonable explanation can you come up with that a teacher should be artificially protected from performing at his or her job?

get rid of tech the test and College-for-all (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 8 months ago | (#46075437)

They are both 2 big things that hurt schools and take away for things that are needed.

In asia they are very big on tech test and why should teachers be ranked on how good people are at test cramming?

College-for-all kills stuff that works better for some people like trades, career education, tech schools, and apprenticeships.

internships are some times tied to the old College system for jobs that are better set in an trades, career education, tech school settting.

whois robert freniere & why do we care? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46075453)

us vets 20 million underserved https://search.yahoo.com/search;_ylt=A0oG7kBdguVSrC0AgARXNyoA?p=col.+%27robert+freniere%27&fr2=sb-top&fr=yfp-t-901

unsung is epidemic with us? world's local hero http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=scott%20olsen&sm=3

Wow (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46075479)

That's a completely unbiased summary...

[They] are suing in the hopes of making harder for poor teachers to stay on the books.

I am quite certain that it's not to break the back of "poor teachers", rather it is to provide a mechanism for removing the bad ones.
There are plenty of awful teachers that do not deserve to be "educating" people in Elementary, Middle, or High School, plus college. And the idea that anyone should have their job guaranteed is preposterous and the idea that teachers are always poor is even more pathetic, particularly given the summer vacation.

There are 365 days in a year (let's ignore leap years). Your average person works 52 weeks, given 2 or 3 weeks of vacation plus 1 week of holiday, giving 48 weeks worked. Of those 48 weeks, they are not generally working weekends, thus giving 48 week * 5 days / week, which is 240 days. Now, compare that to the average 180 day school year (generally not even 8 hour workdays), which will theoretically necessitate some extra work days--I'll generously say 20 full workdays (and ignore the fact that normal full time jobs also require similar behavior). In the best case, that's over a full month worked by the average person that the "poor" teacher does not face, and their job is not guaranteed with a non-401K based retirement as early as 20 years.

None of that is to say that there are not amazing teachers that easily deserve more than they are paid, but I am so tired of hearing about the teachers in general being underpaid. They're not; it's one of the best jobs that you can get without risk, particularly for the money given actual hours on the job and other benefits, and people are villainized for pointing it out.

Wake up.

PS: It's unclear with the Slashdot Beta how this will appear in terms of added whitespace, so hopefully these things aren't too far apart.

Re: Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46075595)

Where is it that teachers don't work eight-hour workdays? The contracted day in my school district is from 7:15 to 3:15 and I don't know of any school that doesn't have eight-hour days. Most teachers are at school lore than the contract dictates, anyway. I'm at school at 6:30 and leave no earlier than four, and I am far from the first teacher at school or the last teacher to leave.

Tenure in K-12 Tenure in higher ed (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46075545)

In higher ed, tenure is about academic freedom. In K-12 it's a misnomer. All that tenure means (and the technical name is continuing contract) for teachers is that the district has to follow due process to get rid of the louses. They can't just fire at will, which they can do if the teacher has a provisional contract. Admins simply have to do their job, but they tend to want to be buddies with the staff, or use their position to hire relatives, so quality goes to hell. That is not the union's fault; the admins just have to follow procedure and poof teacher-be-gone.

Butt Hole Teachers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46075547)

So many butt hole teachers out there, such crud!

Teabagger circle jerk incoming (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46075561)

Guessing this is going to end up like the comments from the story about the VC bitching and whining and crying Nazi. Hopefully provides just as many laughs.

Two Things Suck About This (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 8 months ago | (#46075601)

1. The subject is about children. Why are the Dark Money types standing in the shadows transmitting commands? Why does dark money hide from children?

2. Is there anything about computers or their use in the parent?
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