Reimagining Tenure

Protecting Our Students and Our Profession

February 2015

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In June 2014, a judge in Vergara vs. California examined if laws governing permanent status for teachers (known in common parlance as “tenure”), dismissal procedures and layoff procedures violated the constitutional right of students to a high-quality education. The judge ruled that these laws were, in fact, interfering with that right.

In California, teachers receive “permanent status” on the first day of their third year in the classroom. As a result, permanent status designations put incredible pressure on school sites to make high-stakes decisions about teachers’ careers after just two years. Administrators who do not believe a teacher is ready for permanent status within this timeframe are left with no other option than to dismiss the teacher. In reality, the timeline is even more constrained, as administrators must file paperwork after just 18 months in order to meet state deadlines.

As California school districts, education leaders and court systems debate the future of teacher tenure, we issued a series of recommendations to preserve the job protections while making tenure designations far more meaningful.

Goals of a new tenure system


  • Require teachers to obtain a clear credential and earn at least two consecutive “effective” (or higher) evaluations within five years to earn tenure.

  • Allow up to two one-year extensions on tenure designations for extenuating circumstances (e.g. extreme illness, administrator turnover or maternity leave).

  • Incorporate multi-measure evaluations that include input from multiple perspectives and a portfolio demonstrating professional growth in deciding tenure designations.

  • Institute a regular renewal process.

  • Connect tenure to new avenues for professional development and career growth.

Our proposed path to tenure

Tenure should be a meaningful milestone that reflects teacher growth and student needs.

About the Teacher Action Team

We are a team of nine Los Angeles teachers who spent four weeks researching tenure regulations, surveying the perspectives of teachers, parents, students and administrators, and writing their recommendations.

Pearl Arredondo Title I Coordinator at San Fernando Institute of Applied Media

Andrew Blumenfeld 5th-grade Teacher at Crown Prep Academy and Member of the La Cañada-Flintridge School Board

Erin Fitzgerald-Haddad Math Teacher at San Fernando Institute of Applied Media

Phylis Hoffman 2nd-grade Teacher at Harry Bridges K-8 Span School

Adam Paskowitz Physics Teacher at Banning Academies of Creative and Innovative Sciences

Arielle Starkman Special Education Teacher at New Open World Academy

Ronald Taw Math Instructional Coach at Los Angeles Academy Middle School

Laurie Walters 1st-grade Teacher at New Open World Academy

Cathy Williams Teacher at Secondary Community Day