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Forty-one Palo Alto teachers get tenure

Original post made on Apr 5, 2011

Forty-one teachers representing most of Palo Alto's public school campuses will gather tonight for a yearly event known as the "tenure celebration."

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, April 5, 2011, 9:47 AM

Comments (40)

Posted by commonsense
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 5, 2011 at 10:23 am

Permanent status after TWO years - wonderful for the kids or the teachers? Congratulations to the CA Teachers Association for another blow to the rest of us!

Posted by Me Too
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 5, 2011 at 10:28 am

Have to agree - this is great for those being granted "tenure," but not good for the rest of us. Academic tenure in higher ed protects freedom to research, write, and speak freely. Tenure for teachers is just a job guarantee, with not much benefit to society. I don't mean that as disrespect for teachers (like my mom), it is just the way it is.

Posted by Sad day for taxpayers...
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Apr 5, 2011 at 10:32 am

The most depressing news of the day! What a sham... I don't know how these people can sleep at night.

Posted by Me Three
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 5, 2011 at 10:36 am

It's not even two years -- it's really just a year and a half b/c all the evaluations are done in the first half of the second year. These tenured teachers have been in our district for less than 18 months, and now they are virtually guaranteed lifetime employment. Plus lock step raises, with no "merit" review. How dumb is that?

Posted by Mari C
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 5, 2011 at 10:41 am

My son had one of the teachers being given tenure, Monika Hastings, last year for first grade and she was excellent! I was unaware that she did not already have tenure. If you are unhappy with the tenure policy blame the teachers' union, not the hardworking teachers. I know that here in Palo Alto the teachers work extremely hard, have to teach a wide range of students, and are dedicated to the profession. I disagree with a lot of teachers' union policies too and feel that the union has way too much control, but I also want to see good teachers recognized and rewarded!

Posted by K
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 5, 2011 at 10:47 am

Good for the teachers job security.
it is sad though when kids complain about a teacher and they have tenure, so nothing can be done. at least that is what we were told. they were valid complaints.

Posted by Abolishh-Tenure
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 5, 2011 at 10:51 am

This whole idea of "tenure" needs to be relegated to the dustbin of history. When people are making over $100K at year for 186 days of actual work on the job site, there is no need to "protect" their jobs with "tenure".

It's a shame that this noose is still around our school system's neck.

Posted by Tom
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 5, 2011 at 11:03 am

Good for teachers and bad for our kids. Please watch the documentary "Waiting for Superman"

Posted by coooper
a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2011 at 11:20 am

I wish this article had described what "permanent status" really is, and how it differs from college-level tenure.

Posted by Frank
a resident of Ventura
on Apr 5, 2011 at 11:32 am

Palo Alto has excellent teachers - in fact many have given up tenure at other districts to work here.

Teachers do not make 100k / year - in fact in PAUSD they start at 50k / year. Go to the PAUSD web site and look it up - all their jobs are posted there with salaries.

You can increase that a little if you have a masters degree and over many years it will increase to 90k. If you are a department head or have other duties you might make over 100k but there aren't many.

"Tenured" teachers can certainly be fired with cause - while probationary teachers can be fired for any reason.

Posted by Charlie
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 5, 2011 at 11:32 am

It's like a free pass to the disneyland. Congradulation!

Posted by PAUSD Community
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 5, 2011 at 11:34 am

The teachers today are no worse or better than teachers of yesterday. People just do not get or want to admit that education starts with the family and that the breakdown of the family structure has done a tremendous amount of damage to education. Parents that value education and stress education to their kids most often than not have kids that are motivated to learn. Also today we have to many kids having kids that do not want to be held accountable for their kids education so just real easy to blame it on the teachers.

Posted by Ridiculous
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 5, 2011 at 11:49 am

It would be very easy to stay on good behavior for one and a half years. They shouldn't be granted tenure until at least 5 years.

Posted by We detest working families!
a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2011 at 1:33 pm


That's really funny. Thanks.

Clearly, not a lot of respect for education. Or one who places value in spell checkers. Ever wonder what that red squiggly line below some of your words indicates?

All the countries that have better education systems than ours, they value and respect the profession. We used to, also.

Those countries with better education systems will be bypassing us in other areas, if not already. Science, technology, etc.. Don't worry though, while the GOP wants drive wages lower by bringing foreign scientists and engineers to work cheap on work visas, our kids can mow their lawns and serve them in restaurants.

And the GOP's war on working families will have us snipping at each other, instead of working together to make America great again.

Our education system: Web Link

Get out your foam fingers!

Yea! America Exceptionalism! We're Number One, ummm, ahhh, err, well, number 14.

(For those who are math intolerant, that means you'll need three hands.)

But keep playing into the corporate/GOP hands and keep bashing American working families! It's all their fault because they start at $50k a year!!

Dang those evil teachers!!! Why, they're the reason things are so bad.

Ever look at the profits of GE, Exxon, BP and the wall street banksters? Then take a look at what they ACTUALLY pay in taxes as a percentage of profit or incomes, compared to what you pay.

Or blame teachers. It's easier that way, isn't it?

Posted by Not waiting
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 5, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Tom - Not sure if you saw this but "Waiting for Superman" is a sham! Web Link

Posted by Teach-More-Civics
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 5, 2011 at 1:44 pm

> Ever look at the profits of GE, Exxon, BP and the wall
> street banksters? Then take a look at what they ACTUALLY
> pay in taxes as a percentage of profit or incomes, compared
> to what you pay.

Corporations do not pay taxes. They simply collect "hidden taxes" from their customers. Sadly, most public education systems do not teach much about our government, and the nature of taxes. What they do do, it would seem, is to create myths and hatred of our economic system--as evidenced by the misinformation in the previous post.

Posted by Joe
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Apr 5, 2011 at 1:55 pm

Sadly, this entire thread can be summarized by the misspelling of "Congradulation!" [sic]. See @Charlie

I want to live in a society that is highly educated. Are there that many overpaid, low quality teachers out there? I think we should look at the poor parenting on display nearly everywhere as the root cause of our undereducated socitey.

Posted by PAUSD Community
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 5, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Bottom Line:
Parents who value education and put importance on it and their kids behavior leads to success for the kids in most all cases. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Charlie
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 5, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Everyday New word! Congradulation = congratulate graduation
You folks need to be creative sometimes. Very funny?

Posted by student
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 5, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Frank, according to the PAUSD Budget Report, the average teacher salary for 2010-2011 is $86930. Compared to the average high school teacher salary in the nation of $43557 (Web Link a Palo Alto will make twice that amount. On the other hand, keep in mind that Gunn is ranked #67 and Palo Alto High School ranked #83 on a list of the best high schools in the nation (Web Link

With that information, clearly the teachers the district are hiring are doing something right, definitely placing the vast majority of them above the median in terms of teacher ability. The salary PAUSD offers to teachers acts as an incentive for the best and brightest to continue flowing into our schools, and nitpicking about the small things while ignoring the big picture will only create needless drama.

Posted by Eagle's Eye
a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2011 at 4:06 pm


You misspelled a word: "socitey" should be "society".

Posted by Scott
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 5, 2011 at 5:11 pm

We value our Good teachers, the problem is that not many are actually reviewed. We need our good teachers and to keep them. We need to review them on a yearly basis like any other job and be able to get rid of the ones that don't perform to the standard we have set for our kids. This is just common sense. It's not fair for the union to choose who can be fired or not.

Posted by voter
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 5, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Teachers should be paid based on PERFORMANCE and be AT WILL employees, which would ensure MUCH higher quality. Tenure is a joke and is a big, ugly relic of the past, which has greatly contributed to California schools being in the bottom of the nation, not to mention the world.

Posted by We detest working families!
a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2011 at 5:34 pm

"which has greatly contributed to California schools being in the bottom of the nation"

And where does Prop 13 fit into that? Geez, pal, California dropped down because we quit spending on education. We're at the bottom because our spending is at the bottom.

But, sure, it's a lot easier to blame teachers, isn't it? Web Link

"For example, even without adjusting for the state’s comparatively higher costs, California spends far less per student than the rest of the US – $2,546 less per student in 2009-10. That means California’s schools would have had to spend an additional $76,400 for each 30-student classroom to reach the per student spending level of the rest of the nation.

Because California spends less to support public schools it has more students per classroom than any other state – averaging 21.3 students for each teacher in 2009-10, compared to 13.8 students per teacher for the rest of the US.

While California’s support for public schools has lagged the nation during at least the past four decades, the state’s standing has declined dramatically during the last three years. As a result, an increasing number of California school districts are facing bankruptcy."

Yea California!!! We're Number One, ehhh, umm, we're number last?!?

Would you bring a knowledge based company to a state that doesn't value schools or teachers?

Really, let's just blame the dumb teachers. It's SO much easier than looking at root causes, like funding.

Posted by Bob
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Apr 5, 2011 at 5:40 pm

Schools in California are not suffering because of teachers. Why do people ignore the facts. Palo Alto Schools are very good because they have kids attending who value education and the parents value getting an education. Go to Redwood City Schools and see who attends those, kids and parents who do not value education. All the caucasion kids in Redwood City go to St.Pius, Mt.Carmel, etc.....Schools are in a lot of trouble because of changing demographics in California and school systems wasting tons of money on programs to reach these kids who do not want to learn in the first place.

Posted by voter
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 5, 2011 at 5:56 pm


I agree with you that parents are essential ingredients in helping their children value and attain a great eduction - - that's why I sent mine to private schools, even though I could have sent them to Paly. I don't understand how the PA public schools are ranked in the top 100 in the nation, my personal observations made it clear to me that my children deserved much better. Guess that's in part why they also got to go to Harvard . . . because I cared, my kids cared and most of their private school teachers were really good teachers.

Posted by voter 2
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 5, 2011 at 7:23 pm

Great voter 1. Your children are off to Harvard. You think when they finish that they might consider going back to school for another year to get a teaching credential so they can make a difference? Maybe a few of the complainers could roll up their sleeves and actually get out there and change the World?

Posted by Bob
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Apr 5, 2011 at 7:34 pm

Palo Alto Schools are basically run like private schools. I'm sure private school was just a great fit for your kids and that is understandable. Palo Alto Schools have parents with high expectations who at times are hard to please but the bottom line is Palo Alto parents take great pride in the schools and invest time and money in the schools. Public School Districts are all about the clients they serve. Cupertino, Los Altos, Los Gatos.... all these parents and kids are motivated to get an education and see value in getting an education. To blame teachers for failing school systems is ridiculous. Racial demographics in California have changed dramatically in the last ten years and the race with the biggest jump in population just does not value education for the most part and in most cases. You have to want it! I might play for a bad coach at a time in my life but if I want to succeed I will work hard and overcome. All starts with the parents and work ethic! Also, no one was complaining about tenure ten years ago when economy was awesome and no one wanted to be a teacher. Sour grapes.

Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 5, 2011 at 7:52 pm

It's interesting that some feel teachers are overpaid, yet they hold an exceedingly important job and work damn hard. I suspect teaching in Palo Alto is extraordinarily demanding (an understatement), and getting more so every year, as they expected not only to teach, but act as psychologists and so much more. These teachers earn their salaries and then some--hats off to you all!

Posted by Maya
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 5, 2011 at 8:33 pm

Please inform yourselves before going on and on about tenure. Tenured teachers are granted due process in the event that they are evaluated for dismissal. It does not mean a free pass to do whatever, whenever, however. It most certainly does not.
You should be thankful that so many bright, courageous, people are willing to stick it out in Palo Alto with it's absurd pressures and unrealistic performance goals. Let me assure you tenure, (the right to due process),is earned. Don't think for a minute it is not. 41 teachers received tenure, (the right to due process), tonight. Many teachers did not.

Posted by daniel
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 6, 2011 at 8:04 am

There are many fantastic teachers in the PAUSD and they deserve tenure. Unfortunately, some tenured teachers are not good at all. My kid had a tenured teacher who was just awful. She had a highly dismissive, impatient, put-down attitude toward all but the very elite students in her class. She actually stunted their academic development in her subject. Her attitude discouraged students from asking her questions because she made them feel stupid for asking for clarifications. She was so good at developing low self esteem in many of her students that some even quit her class and went the private on-line route. I am generally supportive of academic tenure but some teachers who clearly don't deserve tenure manage to get it to the detriment of the students.

Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside
on Apr 6, 2011 at 10:00 am


Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 6, 2011 at 10:14 am

Anyone who has had any experience with the public education system, including in PAUSD, KNOWS that the tenure is offered ridiculously early.
Yes, there are some outstanding teachers here, real experts (who ought to get merit pay, something I have always advocated); some middle of the road acceptable teachers, and a few very bad apples who should NOT be teaching here and have tenure.
This is the true picture of the situation: tenure should not be offered so quickly and there should be more evaluation beforehand IF you are going to keep this tenure system.

Posted by coooper
a resident of another community
on Apr 6, 2011 at 1:50 pm

What is "due process" then? Does this mean a teacher can only be dismissed for violating some rule, and not for lack of performance or quality?

Posted by Anna
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 6, 2011 at 2:53 pm

"We detest..." above posted some very interesting data about spending on schools and student performance in California. It's largely true. We do have low spending per pupil and low performance. What "...detest..." doesn't tell you is that there is almost no correlation between spending on schools and performance. Washington DC has the highest spending and among the worst student performance in the country. Utah and Iowa have low spending but very high student performance.

"...detest..." further doesn't tell us that on one measure of school spending, California is a big Number One --- by a large margin over number 2 New Jersey. That is teacher compensation.

Even if you accept the proposition that our schools are hurting because we don't spend enough in the classroom, fairness suggests that everyone - including teachers - should help make up the difference.

Two tenure is one method by which the Teachers Unions starve schools of much needed funds.

Posted by Midto0wn Guy
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 7, 2011 at 10:05 am

Replace tenure with "5 Year Renewable Cntracts", still preserving
dismissal 'for cause.' No one can predict a teacher's (or anyone else's) performance over the next 30 plus years.

As a former PAUSD teacher (18 years) I resented working with a few
older teachers who, protected by tenure, approached their job with sloth. I said a few, but still, the next teacher to have those kids
will have a heck of a job. Dismissal? Feckless administrators do not want to take on the California Teachers Association and the legal challenge.

The District never used to have this kind of celebration for teachers achieving tenure. It's tone-deaf administration behaviour,
since the public is up-in-arms over the tenure debate, and this
iroonically calls attention to it with a new ceremony. PAUSD teachers
are by-and-large excellent and need not fear the end of tenure. It will only earn them more respect.

Posted by We detest working families!
a resident of another community
on Apr 7, 2011 at 11:09 am


Claims need to be substantiated by facts and links: "That is teacher compensation." Of course California wages are higher than many states - look at ALL occupations. What does your occupation pay in Omaha?

>>>"there is almost no correlation between spending on schools and performance"


Doesn't even pass the smell test. Look at the states that spend to keep class size low, and you will find performance.

Our great state of California is at the bottom of that list. Blame lower tax revenues from the corporations that benefited from prop 13. Now they are the ones who want cheap foreign workers on HB1 visas, because state education sucks. They need to hire American. They need to pay their fair share.

"The data is consistent throughout the state: in virtually every county in the state, the share of the property tax borne by residential property has increased since the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978, while the share of the property tax borne by non-residential property has decreased.

Some examples: in Contra Costa County, the residential share of the property tax went from 48% to 73%. In Santa Clara County, the residential share went from 50% to 64%, despite massive industrial/commercial growth. In Los Angeles County, it went from 53% to 69%. In Orange County, it went from 59% to 72%, states the report. " Web Link

Starving the beast, at the expense of our children and the future economic prospects of our great state.

Posted by ChrisC
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 7, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Perhaps a good article would be an examination of what "tenure" means. It isn't any different from when I worked for a really good company, who respected their workers, and who had a process for getting rid of them that required more than some spiteful person making a complaint. After a probationary period, unless one was guilty of one of the instant dismissal criterion (theft and other such things), the employee had to be put on notice, given a chance to improve, etc. That's all tenure is. It's not a guarantee for life employment--just makes it more equitable. The fact that this made a headline is a reflection of the new anti-teacher sentiments whipped into a frenzy by the right-wing to deflect the real causes of our financial debacle.

Posted by former tenured teacher
a resident of another community
on Apr 9, 2011 at 7:54 pm

I left PAUSD. I got tenured but couldn't stand the emphasis on Grades. I would never send any of my own children to PAUSD schools. Kids are so stressed out! By the way, tenure is very wrong. Good teachers don't need union protection. Celebrating tenure is very sad for the profession.

Posted by Joe
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 23, 2011 at 3:42 pm

The administration can place a tenured teacher on PEER REVIEW or whatever, and send someone in to work with them for a year. Peer assistance review. The teacher can still receive "Unsatisfactory" marks in five levels of evaluation. Even though it is difficult to remove a tenured teacher, the administration can remediate it. If done fairly the teacher would be watched like a "hawk," and all gross incompentencies can be documented. The problem is that the administators don't want to take this on. Any teacher who proves himself/herself over the probabtionary time, and fall shorts in future years should have the capacity to remediate deficiencies. It is an administrative concern. What teacher would feel good about being placed on "intensive watching and monitoring." However, it would be good for the kids.

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