Will California Tenure Ruling Affect Georgia Teachers?

Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

Teachers’ unions have reacted strongly to a recent California court ruling, which stripped teachers of protections, including tenure. The country’s biggest teachers’ union asked U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to resign after he publicly supported the decision.

But will the ruling have any effect in Georgia? Education and legal experts don’t think so.

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The California ruling made waves in heavily unionized states. Georgia is a right to work state; collective bargaining is banned.

Georgia K-12 teachers don’t receive tenure. They sign year-to-year contracts. After three years, they earn due process, says Tim Callahan, a spokesperson for the Professional Association of Georgia Educators.

“When [teachers] start their fourth year, they are under the law of fair dismissal, so they can only be dismissed for cause after that time,” Callahan says. “Up to their fourth year, they can be dismissed for no reason whatsoever.”

Mike McGonigle is general counsel for the Georgia Association of Educators. He doesn’t expect the California case to spark similar litigation in Georgia. McGonigle says Georgia teachers still have legal recourse, even though they don’t have tenure.

“Due process is due process, whether it’s in Georgia, New York, California, Mississippi, Wisconsin,” McGonigle says. “It’s all based on the Constitution and the Constitution means the same here as it does in other states.”

Both PAGE and the GAE are teachers’ associations, not unions. They advocate for teachers, but don’t collectively bargain for wages.

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