Saturday, June 14, 2014

California Court strikes a Major Blow against Teacher Tenure

A California judge declared the state's strong teacher-tenure laws unconstitutional in a rebuke that promises to spur similar challenges around the country.
The student plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the state and two teachers unions successfully argued that statutes protecting teacher tenure, dismissal procedures and "last-in, first-out" layoff policies serve more often to keep ineffective instructors in the schools—hurting students' chances to succeed.
In Tuesday's decision in Vergara v. California, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu cited the Supreme Court's 1954 Brown v. Board of Education "separate but equal" ruling, writing that the laws in this case "impose a real and appreciable impact on the students' fundamental right to equality of education."
Julia Macias, a plaintiff in the suit that challenged 
California's teacher-employment laws, speaks Tuesday.
Associated Press
The unions in the case—the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers—said they planned to appeal the ruling. The laws at issue will remain in effect pending that appeal.
The case seems certain to reverberate to other states. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan called the ruling "a mandate" for lawmakers and education leaders to address "practices and systems that fail to identify and support our best teachers and match them with our neediest students."
Alex Caputo-Pearl, president elect of United Teachers LA
California has some of the strongest teacher-employment protections in the nation, and is one of only 10 states that require seniority be considered in layoff decisions. It also is one of five states where tenure can be earned within two years or less.
The court found in Tuesday's decision that as a result of that policy, "teachers are being released who would not have been had more time been provided for the process"—hurting not only students, but also many younger teachers.
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