A California judge recently ruled that teacher tenure and other job protections violate a student’s right to education and, as such, are unconstitutional. The case, Vergara v. California, prompted speculation about what it would mean for other states where similar lawsuits might be filed. But what does the ruling – if it survives appeals – mean for California? The impact may be greater on some areas of the state than others. The map below shows the percentage of teachers with tenure by county, according to California Department of Education data. Click on a county to see the amount of teachers who have tenure and the average years of experience.

Of course, the link between teacher tenure and student performance is murky. One side argues that more experienced teachers, generally those who have tenure, are better. The other side claims that job security provides a cover for teachers to slack off. The map below, which shows the percentage of students in each county who scored at least ‘proficient’ on the state’s 2012-13 Language Arts exam, suggests that tenure doesn’t guarantee any particular result, good or bad. Madera County, one of the lowest performing districts, and Marin County, the highest performing, both have given tenure to about 80 percent of teachers. One thing is clear, though: high percentages of tenure are more common than high percentages of proficient students.

[Cross-posted at Hechinger Report]

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Sarah Butrymowicz received a bachelor's degree from Tufts University and an M.S. from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.