Dear Commons Community,
Wading into an intense national battle that has pitted teacher unions against a movement to weaken tenure protections, Gov. Jerry Brown has appealed a California judge’s sweeping ruling that threw out teacher job protection laws on the ground that they deprived students of their constitutional rights. As reported in The New York Times:
In a one-page appeal filed late Friday afternoon, Mr. Brown and the state attorney general, Kamala D. Harris, argued that a decision of such scope needed to be made by a higher court, and that the judge in this case had declined a request by the governor and attorney general “to provide a detailed statement of the factual and legal bases for its ruling.”
“Changes of this magnitude, as a matter of law and policy, require appellate review,” it said of the case, Vergara v. California.
The notice of appeal was filed one day after the judge in the case, Rolf M. Treu of Los Angeles Superior Court, issued his final ruling. Tom Torlakson, the state’s superintendent of public instruction, had also requested that Ms. Harris file the appeal.
The decision by Judge Treu, handed down in June, sent shock waves across the educational establishment here and nationwide. He found that tenure protections for teachers deprived students of a constitutional right to an education, and disproportionately hurt poor and minority students.
“The evidence is compelling,” the judge wrote. “Indeed, it shocks the conscience.”
The case was brought by an organization of students, Students Matter, backed by a Silicon Valley technology millionaire, David Welch. A lawyer for the organization, Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., criticized Mr. Brown’s decision to appeal.
“The State of California should be supporting and protecting students not defending these harmful and irrational laws,” Mr. Boutrous said Saturday. “Judge Treu got it exactly right, and this appeal is destined for failure.”
Teacher unions here had denounced the decision, saying teachers were being scapegoated for the failures of educational institutions. But the ruling was strongly welcomed by the federal education secretary, Arne Duncan, and California Republicans — including Neel Kashkari, who is challenging Mr. Brown this fall.”
Governor Brown is doing the right thing in appealing this ruling.