Where are most of California’s tenured teachers?

The Hechinger Report is a national nonprofit newsroom that reports on one topic: education. Sign up for our weekly newsletters to get stories like this delivered directly to your inbox.

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.

The Hechinger Report provides in-depth, fact-based, unbiased reporting on education that is free to all readers. But that doesn't mean it's free to produce. Our work keeps educators and the public informed about pressing issues at schools and on campuses throughout the country. We tell the whole story, even when the details are inconvenient. Help us keep doing that.

Join us today.


Sarah Butrymowicz

Sarah Butrymowicz is senior editor for investigations. For her first four years at The Hechinger Report, she was a staff writer, covering k-12 education, traveling… See Archive

Letters to the Editor

Send us your thoughts

At The Hechinger Report, we publish thoughtful letters from readers that contribute to the ongoing discussion about the education topics we cover. Please read our guidelines for more information.

By submitting your name, you grant us permission to publish it with your letter. We will never publish your email. You must fill out all fields to submit a letter.

No letters have been published at this time.