Teaching Profession

Reactions to the Vergara Teacher-Tenure Decision Pour In

By Stephen Sawchuk — June 10, 2014 5 min read
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Here’s a sampling of what some of the key players in the Vergara v. California trial, and some major interest groups, are saying in response to the high-profile ruling. For details on the June 10 decision, which strikes down California’s state laws for teacher tenure and dismissal, check out this earlier blog post.

• Theodore Boutrous, attorney for the plaintiffs:

“It’s terrific, a wonderful day for California students, the Calfornia education system, and the rule of law. Judge Treu’s decision is truly a landmark ruling, in the tradition of rulings of the Calfornia Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court that laws that create inequality in the education system are struck down. This decision will reverberate powerfully throughout California and throughout the nation. ... This is going to be a huge template for what’s wrong with education. It will impact the national education referendum going on right now.”

Dennis Van Roekel, president, National Education Association:

“Just like the meritless lawsuit of Vergara v. State of California, the ruling by Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu is deeply flawed. Today’s ruling would make it harder to attract and retain quality teachers in our classrooms and ignores all research that shows experience is a key factor in effective teaching. ... Let’s be clear: This lawsuit was never about helping students, but is yet another attempt by millionaires and corporate special interests to undermine the teaching profession and push their own ideological agenda on public schools and students while working to privatize public education.”

Julia Macias, one of the nine plaintiffs:

“Being a kid, sometimes it’s easy to feel as though your voices aren’t heard. Today I’m glad I did not stay quiet; with the support of my parents I was given the ability to fight for my right for an equal education.”

Tom Torlakson, California State Superintendent:

“While I have no direct jurisdiction over the statutes challenged in this case, I am always ready to assist the legislature and governor in their work to provide high-quality teachers for all of our students. Teachers are not the problem in our schools, they are the solution.”

Randi Weingarten, president, American Federation of Teachers:

“In focusing on these [ineffective] teachers who make up a fraction of the workforce, he strips the hundreds of thousands of teachers who are doing a good job of any right to a voice. In focusing on who should be laid off in times of budget crises, he omits the larger problem at play: full and fair funding of our schools so all kids have access to the classes--like music, art and physical education--and opportunities they need. It’s surprising that the court, which used its bully pulpit when it came to criticizing teacher protections, did not spend one second discussing funding inequities, school segregation, high poverty or any other out-of-school or in-school factors that are proven to affect student achievement and our children. We must lift up solutions that speak to these factors--solutions like wraparound services, early childhood education and project-based learning.”

California Teachers Association:

“The Vergara plaintiffs failed to produce a single example of a student harmed or likely to be harmed by due process laws. We will appeal.”

Rep. George Miller (D), ranking member, House Education and the Workforce Committee:

“For years, our nation’s courts have been the arbiter of equity in education. Like Brown v. Board, Serrano, Butt, and the many other landmark educational equality cases before it, Vergara will help refocus our education system on the needs of students.”

John Deasy, superintendent, Los Angeles Unified School District:

“Every day these laws remain in place represents another opportunity denied. I look forward to engaging with our elected leaders here in Los Angeles and in Sacramento about the future of education in California, and with the attorney general so we can right the laws immediately. ... There is no reason our legislative leaders couldn’t be sitting down this afternoon to correct these laws.”

Kati Haycock, president, Education Trust:

“Judge Treu’s historic decision affirms what we have long known to be true: Low-income students and students of color in California are denied access to equal educational opportunities. The decision will force California to address the reality that our most vulnerable students are less likely to have access to effective teachers. ... Current laws exacerbating inequity will remain in place until new laws replace them. Californians deserve a new set of policies that not only grow the ranks of well-supported, high-performing teachers but also get strong teachers to the low-income students and students of color who need them.”

Tim Daly, president, TNTP:

“The legislature has defended the rights of public employees but has not adequately defended the rights of students and families. ... I would discourage those who would seek to portray this as a win for students and a loss for teachers. The vast majority of teachers gained nothing from the protection of ineffective teachers.”

Arne Duncan, U.S. secretary of education:

“The students who brought this lawsuit are, unfortunately, just nine out of millions of young people in America who are disadvantaged by laws, practices, and systems that fail to identify and support our best teachers and match them with our neediest students. Today’s court decision is a mandate to fix these problems. Together, we must work to increase public confidence in public education. This decision presents an opportunity for a progressive state with a tradition of innovation to build a new framework for the teaching profession that protects students’ rights to equal educational opportunities while providing teachers the support, respect and rewarding careers they deserve. My hope is that today’s decision moves from the courtroom toward a collaborative process in California that is fair, thoughtful, practical and swift.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.