Is Teacher Tenure Bad for Students?

Slate's weekly political roundtable.
June 13 2014 10:48 AM

The “Eric Cantor Sure Wears Beautiful Shoes” Gabfest

Listen to Slate's show about Eric Cantor's shocking defeat, Hillary Clinton's new memoir, and California's teacher tenure case.


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On this week's Slate Political Gabfest, David Plotz, Emily Bazelon, and John Dickerson discuss the primary defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the new memoir by Hillary Clinton, about her time as secretary of state, and a court ruling in California over the constitutionality of teacher tenure.

Here are some of the links and references mentioned during this week's show:

  • Cantor lost his primary by 11 points in a surprise upset, leading many to theorize about the causes.
  • Republicans in Cantor’s district are white, old, and conservative, writes Will Saletan.
  • Both Sen. Lindsay Graham and Sen. Mitch McConnell won their primaries despite opposition from anti-establishment republicans, although Sen. Thad Cochran risks losing his primary to a tea party challenger.
  • John reviewed Hillary Clinton’s new book Hard Choices, which he received in PDF format. Emily had a similar experience when reviewing Glen Greenwald’s book No Place To Hide.
  • Clinton’s politically cautious writing is a direct contrast to former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’s book Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War.
  • John wrote about Clinton’s remark that she was “dead broke” after leaving the White House.
  • Amy Chozick has been assigned to the Clinton beat for the New York Times, and wrote about the first book signing of Clinton’s tour.
  • Using Time’s Political Memoir Generator, David generated names for the Gabfest hosts: Solemn Leadership, by David Plotz, A Mission to Defend, by Emily Bazelon, and The Authority to Decide, by John Dickerson.
  • An L.A. Superior Court judge ruled that teacher tenure was unconstitutional because it unfairly affects poor and minority students.
  • California has a “last in, first out” policy which dictates layoffs based on seniority.
  • Principals at schools with high poverty students struggle wooing teachers, even when offering financial incentives, says Dana Goldstein.
  • In 2009, Steven Brill wrote about New York City’s “Rubber Rooms,” the temporary locations where teachers facing misconduct or incompetency charges are required to stay.

John chatters about the Pew Research Center’s new study on heightened political polarization.

David chatters about his brother John Plotz’s new book, Time and the Tapestry: A William Morris Adventure, and Holly Bass’s performance art project, “Truck Touch Ballet.”

Topic ideas for next week? You can tweet suggestions, links, and questions to @SlateGabfest. The email address for the Political Gabfest is (Email may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)

Podcast production by Mike Vuolo. Links compiled by Max Tani.

Emily Bazelon is a staff writer at the New York Times Magazine and the author of Sticks and Stones

John Dickerson is Slate's chief political correspondent and author of On Her Trail. Read his series on the presidency and on risk.

David Plotz is Slate's editor at large. He's the author of The Genius Factory and Good Book.



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