California Educator

August 2014

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 33 of 73

Advocacy Legal Educators to appeal Vergara ruling O N J U N E 1 0 , Judge Rolf M. Treu of Los Angeles Superior Court handed down his decision in Vergara v. California, ruling that current due process protections for teachers, experience-based layoffs and the two-year pro- bationary period violate the state constitution. Treu placed a stay on any implementation of the ruling, pending an appeal. While the stay stops any immediate practical impact on teachers, the ruling set off a national fi restorm with ill-informed headlines about the judge striking down "tenure." Trying to seize upon a short-term victory, attor- neys for Students Matter, the millionaire-funded front group for the lawsuit, urged lawmakers to "act now" and promised to bring similar lawsuits in other states. CTA, which intervened in the case along with the California Federation of Teachers, took immediate steps to point out the serious fl aws in the judge's decision and his reasoning. "It is important to us that teachers not be frightened by some of the more hysterical headlines," says CTA President Dean E. Vogel. "Not everyone has been following the trial that closely, and we want to make sure that members know this is in no way a fi nal outcome, and our strong legal team is confi dent as we move the appeal process forward." To the extent that one can predict a ruling based on a judge's questions and rulings on objections during the trial, the outcome was not a surprise to most observers. Treu rejected constitutional grounds for dismissing the case outright and frequently ruled expert defense testimony irrelevant if the witness had not done extensive research within California. Nationally respected experts were often hamstrung by the judge's apparent belief that teachers, administrators and students become radically different once they cross California's borders, while witnesses for the plaintiffs were sometimes given considerably more latitude. Educators and nationally renowned experts denounced the ruling. A key defense witness, educational psychologist David Berliner, said the judge misinterpreted his testimony in the ruling and used erroneous estimates of the number of ineffective teachers to support his decision. Education blog- ger Diane Ravitch condemned the decision and pointed out the absurdity of using the anecdotal testimony of students who questioned the effective- ness of well-regarded teachers with strong evaluations, including Pasadena Teacher of the Year Christine McLaughlin, as a basis for striking down job protections for all teachers. In a column for the Orange County Register, UC Irvine dean of law and constitutional scholar Erwin Chemerinsky said the ruling was based on false assumptions and would be unlikely to withstand appeal. He said the ruling scapegoated teachers. "Laws providing for job security for teach- ers are not to blame for educational problems in California or elsewhere. There is little evidence that lessening job protections for teachers would By Frank Wells do anything to make education better. In fact, it might make education worse." While the appeal will take years and is likely to overturn Judge Treu's decision, Students Matter and the school privatization interests backing the suit have pledged to take similar action in other states. CTA and its members will continue to get the truth out about the forces behind Vergara, and to remind parents, communities and voters that teachers are not the problem with public education — they are the solution. MARY JEAN BOLIN This decision has nothing to do with equal pay and all good, effective educators deserve respect for what they do. This decision could remove your right to due process if it's suc- cessful. The younger, newer teachers will be more negatively affected by this decision in the long run. REBECCA HAYHURST This is the problem with the court ruling. One child (or one parent, or one administrator) who doesn't "click" with a teach- er, can get them dismissed. What about all the students, parents and fellow educators who named her [Christine McLaughlin] teacher of the year in 2013 (and in 2008)? STEVE COLE In short, this entire trial was just political crap brought by a spoiled rich brat, and I hate seeing a fantastic teacher, and by every measure I've seen (I have no personal relationship with her [Christine McLaughlin] outside of the school environment), a good human being dragged through the mud because of it. NANCY MADRID Billionaires and people who want to privatize education are behind the Vergara lawsuit. I wouldn't be surprised if the students and parents were paid off by them also. ARIEL TELLEZ These corporations will stop at nothing because of the profit they stand to make. They want to tap into the billions that are supposed to go to public schools. LYNDA DOUGHERTY Thank God we have an appeal process. Without due process, you can be fired for sticking up for a student and angering an administrator. Or some other very lame reason. This lawsuit opens the doors for termination with- out just cause. CTA members reacted to the Vergara ruling… 32

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of California Educator - August 2014