NUSD Race: Tenure and Ineffective Teachers

THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz


THE NATOMAS BUZZ invited the four candidates running for the Natomas Unified school board to participate in a series of articles wherein they answer questions submitted by readers. Today’s question asked,

“‘Teacher has tenure’ has unfortunately been the response many times when an issue has arisen where a teacher is not effective in the classroom and students are suffering academically as a result. As a board member, what tools can you use to remedy the situation?” -Anthony Edmonds

Here are the answers submitted by the deadline, in the order they were received:

Jag Bains

Jag Bains

As a union member, I believe everyone deserves due process. However, we need to make sure the most egregious cases of teacher ineffectiveness or misconduct can be handled in a manner that doesn’t cost Natomas Unified thousands of dollars, which is money that could be spent hiring teachers or making upgrades to the classroom to better prepare our students. As your School Board member, I would work with elected officials, parents, teachers, and the education community to come up with an appropriate legislative solution on teacher tenure. We should also provide teachers who need support with professional development and culturally competent training. The Vergara v. California ruling has started a much needed conversation about tenure laws and their impact. I support a solution that acknowledges that our current system does indeed have flaws, but also realizes that teachers cannot solve all problems. Natomas should lead on this issue.

Lisa Kaplan

Lisa Kaplan

To say teaching is challenging is an understatement, even the best teachers are stretched to their limits sometimes. However, every student deserves an exemplary teacher, and when a teacher is struggling, Natomas has a duty to provide support to both our children and teacher. Teacher tenure is the law, but that does not mean there are not tools to improve our struggling teachers. There are no easy answers to remedy every situation, but Natomas has set up a Professional Teacher Support Program to provide support services to teachers who need improvement. Furthermore, this year Natomas Unified is working with our teachers on an updated evaluation system. While no evaluation system creates a perfect measure of a teacher’s effectiveness, a proper evaluation will allow teachers and principals to work together to proactively improve our teachers skills. Together, through professional development, proper evaluations, and high standards, all Natomas teachers will be exemplary.

Teri Burns

Teri Burns

Per Board direction, the administration is discussing with the teachers’ association ways to improve our teacher evaluation procedures. The evaluation system is not intended to be punitive, but to identify areas where teachers may need improvement and to support making those improvements. The Superintendent is already training administrators in better, more consistent evaluation methods and holding them accountable for doing those evaluations. An up-to-date evaluation document will help. It should also identify areas of teacher strengths, so that we can connect those teachers with struggling colleagues. The board must hold administrators accountable for giving support to their staff and support them when they have done all they can without achieving positive results. By consistently performing quality evaluations, identifying and providing needed professional development, and removing teachers who cannot or will not make the improvements needed we will keep effective teachers in our classrooms.

Sachiko Konatsu

Sachiko Konatsu

If the teacher is known to be ineffective and students are suffering then the district should be able to remove that teacher to protect the children. Times have changed and we now have other safeguards like the strong teachers union to help protect against wrongful dismissal. I have successfully motivated the removal of ineffective school administrators, so I already have experience working within the current systems. I’m interested in modest reforms to improve parent input, but want to make sure that teachers are protected from wrongful dismissal.

A public forum for the Natomas Unified School District candidates, hosted by Natomas Charter School, is set for 6 p.m. on Oct. 28 at the Benvenuti Performing Arts Center, 4600 Blackrock Drive.


  1. Scott Lipton says

    The question specifically asked about tools used to address ineffective teachers at our district. Unfortunately either due to a lack of knowledge about our school district, or a failure to understand the intricacies of current law and collective bargaining agreements Mr. Bains and Ms. Konatsu failed to directly answer the question asked.
    For Mr. Bains to rely solely upon statewide tenure reform ignores numerous political realities and demonstrates a dangerous lack of understanding about local governance.

    I applaud Ms. Burns for describing methodologies the district is currently developing to address this issue. I also appreciate Ms. Kaplan for directly answering the qeustion by identifying specific tools. She was the ONLY candidate to completely answer the question.

    *Full Disclosure: In 2010 I volunteered for Ms. Kaplan’s various elective campaigns and donated to her school board election. In 2014 I have made NO Donations in this election and have not publically supported any candidate.

    • James Green says

      Your disclosure reveals the nature and intent behind your comments. I appreciate that both Mr. Bains and Ms. Konatsu, realize this conversation is larger than trying out a series of out of date local reforms that have yielded practically no results. Everyone knows that this piece meal evaluation system approach is just another way to kick the can down the alley. Personally, I think a final legislative solution is important not just for Natomas, but for all children in California who are suffering under abysmal educational circumstances. Think big, Scott.

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