Dear Commons Community,
In the long-awaited Vergara v. California case, a judge struck down tenure and other job protections for California’s public school teachers yesterday, saying such laws harm students — especially poor and minority ones — by saddling them with bad teachers who are almost impossible to fire. As reported in The Huffington Post:
“In a landmark decision that could influence the gathering debate over tenure across the country, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu cited the historic case of Brown v. Board of Education in ruling that students have a fundamental right to equal education.
Siding with the nine students who brought the lawsuit, he ruled that California’s laws on hiring and firing in schools have resulted in “a significant number of grossly ineffective teachers currently active in California classrooms.”
He agreed, too, that a disproportionate number of these teachers are in schools that have mostly minority and low-income students. The judge stayed the ruling pending appeals. The case involves 6 million students from kindergarten through 12th grade.
The California Attorney General’s office said it is considering its legal options, while the California Teachers Association (CTA), the state’s biggest teachers union with 325,000 members, vowed an appeal.
“Circumventing the legislative process to strip teachers of their professional rights hurts our students and our schools,” the union said.
“This suit is not pro-student. It is fundamentally anti-public education, scapegoating teachers for problems originating in underfunding, poverty, and economic inequality,” California Federation of Teachers President Joshua Pechthalt said.”
The lawsuit was funded by Students Matter which was created by Silicon Valley multimillionaire David Welch and a private public relations firm. The group is supported by former Washington, D.C., schools chancellor Michelle Rhee and Students First, Parent Revolution Executive Director Ben Austin, billionaire and school privatizer Eli Broad, former lawmaker Gloria Romero, and other corporate education reformers with an interest in privatizing public education and attacking teachers’ unions.
The appeals process is likely to take several years.