Vergara witness says streets more than teachers shape academics
An expert in educational psychology testified today that violence in the neighborhood, family income, food insecurity and other out-of-school factors are three times more likely to impact a student’s classroom performance than the effectiveness of the teacher. The expert, David Berliner, also discounted the reliability of student test scores to judge a teacher’s ability to...
By Mark Harris | March 18, 2014
Keep seniority for layoffs, Vergara witness tells court
A 30-year veteran of teaching in California school districts testified for the defense today in Vergara v. California, saying state laws protecting teacher employment are critical to maintaining teacher effectiveness in the classroom. Linda Tolladay, an eighth grade science teacher in the Madera Unified School District outside Fresno, told the court that replacing seniority with...
By Mark Harris | March 17, 2014
Teachers refute ‘ineffective’ charges by Vergara witnesses
The defense in Vergara vs. California today put more distance between student-plaintiffs who described their teachers as ineffective and the teachers, by calling them to the stand to defend their effectiveness. Both teachers, Dawna Watty and Anthony Mize, directly challenged the assertions of their former students — Brandon DeBose and Elizabeth Vegara, whose sister Beatriz...
By Mark Harris | March 14, 2014
Vergara sisters recall teachers who inspired them to join lawsuit
Beatriz and Elizabeth Vergara, sisters at the center of a state lawsuit in their name, Vergara vs. California, took the witness stand today, describing chaotic classrooms with inattentive and hurtful teachers in their middle school. The sisters, who now attend high school at Cesar Chavez Learning Academies, an LA Unified school in San Fernando, are...
By Mark Harris | February 11, 2014
Vergara trial: Tears fall over challenges of minority students
In an abbreviated day of testimony in the trial Vergara v. CA, a suit that is challenging teacher dismissal laws in California, Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu heard from two witnesses who described their personal disappointments with California’s public education system and the laws regulating teacher employment. Testifying on behalf of the plaintiffs, Kareem Weaver,...
By Vanessa Romo | February 7, 2014
Vergara trial turns another focus onto LA Unified teachers
A Harvard professor of education and economics provided the Vergara plaintiffs powerful testimony today when he told the court that schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District have ineffective teachers and a disproportionate number of them are assigned to minority and low income students. The opinions of Thomas Kane went to the heart of the...
By Mark Harris | February 6, 2014
Vergara hears moving testimony from oft-dismissed teacher
A stunning silence fell over the courtroom today when Bhavini Bhakta, the first teacher to testify in the Vergara v California trial, described the impact of the state’s current teacher dismissal and seniority laws. An award-winning educator with two master’s degrees, she recounted how despite her success, the warm embrace of her students and the...
By Mark Harris | February 4, 2014
Commentary: Why Vergara won’t solve the real teacher problem
Bad teachers need to leave. And it is a gross injustice that they are disproportionately congregated in low-income communities. Right now, because of Vergara vs. California, the lawsuit waged against education laws alleged to protect bad teachers, there is a tremendous amount of public anger directed at those teachers. But to fire grossly incompetent teachers...
By Ellie Herman | February 4, 2014
Vergara trial: finally, evidence of a student hurt by state laws
It took six days of testimony to finally put a human face on the legal issues in Vergara vs. California, and it wasn’t Beatriz Vergara or any of the other eight plaintiffs challenging the state and its biggest teacher unions. Rather it was Joey Raymond, the son of the former Sacramento City Unified superintendent, Jonathan...
By Mark Harris | February 3, 2014
More ‘ineffective teacher’ testimony, even without Vergara
After the first week of the groundbreaking trial Vergara vs. California in a California superior court, lawyers and witnesses talked a lot about ineffective teachers, arcane rules for dismissing them and how much money it costs. One thing they didn’t talk about was Beatriz Vergara. The lawsuit in her name — she’s an LA Unified...
By Mark Harris | January 31, 2014