Sunday, June 15, 2014

Vergara lawsuit

The judge in the landmark Vergara lawsuit just issued his decision (attached and posted at: and it was even better than I could have hoped for – it's a grand slam win for students! (And a grim day for the Blob, especially grossly ineffective teachers and the unions that protect them.)
Key lines:
"Evidence has been elicited in this trial of the specific effect of grossly ineffective teachers on students. The evidence is compelling. Indeed, it shocks the conscience…There is also no dispute that there are a significant number of ineffective teachers currently active in California classrooms…The number of grossly ineffective teachers has a direct, real, appreciable, and negative impact on a significant number of California students, now and well into the future for as long as said teachers hold their positions."
"This Court…finds that based on…the evidence presented at trial, Plaintiffs have proven, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the challenged statutes impose a real and appreciable impact on students' fundamental right to equality of educationand that they impose a disproportionate burden on poor and minority students."
Regarding the speed and ease with which new teachers earn tenure, the judge wrote:
"There was extensive evidence presented, including some from the defense, that…the Permanent Employment Statute does not provide nearly enough time for an informed decision to be made regarding the decision of tenure (critical for both students and teachers)…Startling evidence was presented that in some districts, including LAUSD, the time constraint results in non-election based on "any doubt," thus depriving 1) teachers of an adequate opportunity to establish their competence, and 2) students of potentially competent teachers…This Court finds that bothstudents and teachers are unfairly, unnecessarily, and for no legally cognizable reason (let alone a compelling one), disadvantaged by the current Permanent Employment Statute."
Regarding the impossibility of removing any tenured teacher, the judge wrote:
"Why, then, the need for the current tortuous process required by the Dismissal Statutes formteacher dismissals, which has been decried by both plaintiff and defense witnesses?...There is no question that teachers should be afforded reasonable due process when their dismissals are sought. However, based on the evidence before this Court, it finds the current system required by the Dismissal Statutes to be so complex, time consuming and expensive as to make an effective, efficient yet fair dismissal of a grossly ineffective teacher illusory."
Lastly, regarding the LIFO system used when lay-offs are necessary, the judge wrote:
"This statute contains no exception or waiver based on teacher effectiveness. The last-hired teacher is the statutorily-mandated first-fired one when lay-offs occur. No matter how gifted the junior teacher, and no matter how grossly ineffective the senior teacher, the junior gifted one, who all parties agree is creating a positive atmosphere for his/her students, is separated from them and a senior grossly ineffective one who all parties agree is harming the students entrusted to him/her is left in place. The result is classroom disruption on two front, a lose-lose situation . Contrast this to the junior/effective teacher remaining and a senior/incompetent teacher being removed, a win-win situation, and the point is clear.
Distilled to its basics, the State Defendants'/Intervenors' [read: unions'] position requires them to defend the proposition that the state has a compelling interest in thede facto separation of students from competent teachers, and a like interest in the de facto retention of incompetent ones. The logic of this position is unfathomable and therefore constitutionally unsupportable."
Here's DFER's statement:
Devin Boyle | 202.445.0416 | 
Democrats for Education Reform Statement on Vergara v. California
Los Angeles, June 10, 2014 – Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) issued the following statement from Executive Director Joe Williams today on Judge Rolf Treu's much-anticipated decision in the Vergara v. California case:
"California's public education system is unfairly rigged against the very kids who most need it to have a fighting chance in life, a judge ruled today. Admitting that sober reality means the public can finally do something about it.
"We believe that that the Vergara case should not be the last word on tenure and the role of teacher effectiveness in teacher hiring, promotion, placement and dismissal policies. The fact that the case was necessary at all reflects the failure of stakeholders to come together and find common ground on policies that treat educators fairly but also make the interests of students paramount in our public education system.
"What's needed ultimately is political reform that levels the playing field in Sacramento so that students don't have to take the state to court to get an effective teacher. We should not rule out the possibility of an education system that retains tenure but awards it on merit rather than time served. In fact, some districts and local teachers' unions are begging for a system very much like that that the state will not let them move ahead with.
"In fact, as recently as a month ago, the state struck down a request by San Jose  to implement a peer review teacher evaluation system that would have kept tenure but lengthened the probationary period to attain it.  The local chapter of the California Teachers Association was fully on board with the plan.
"This isn't the first time the state stepped in to block the kinds of policies that would have made Vergara unnecessary. Not by a long shot. If California wants, as we do, teachers to be viewed as professionals, we need to find a way transcend the special interest politics that prevent teachers from professionalizing.
"In a decisive victory for the student plaintiffs, Judge Treu's ruling struck down all five of the contested policies that seriously impacted student achievement, including a permanent employment statute, three dismissal statutes, and the controversial "Last-in, First Out" statute, which took teacher performance out of the equation when determining district-wide layoffs.
The nine students represented in the Vergara case were not alone.  Many states across the country have already taken steps to increase teacher effectiveness and improve educational equity, and they will be models for California as it moves forward.
About Democrats for Education Reform
Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) is a political reform organization with 12 state affiliates that cultivates and supports leaders in the Democratic Party who champion America's public schoolchildren.
Here's are links to lots of news coverage:
Huge Loss for Teachers Unions in California Case, Stephanie Simon, Politico,

 Subscribe in a reader