Teachers’ unions vow to fight Vergara decision, others celebrate
LA School Report | June 10, 2014
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California’s teacher unions vowed to fight today’s Vergara ruling that called teacher dismissal, seniority and tenure laws unconstitutional as other education groups applauded the court’s decision.
Alex Caputo-Pearl, UTLA President-elect
“All the school will be [adversely affected], but the schools where conditions are worst, which is often south LA, that’s the equity issue we’re talking about. At those schools, teachers are going to be at particular risk.”
“This ruling is striking down statutes. It affects all teachers, particularly teachers who stick their necks out, who build programs with students, do all the extra things, that spend way more than 2 percent of their salary on their classrooms. Those teachers in the toughest conditions who stick their necks out the most, are going to be at risk from an administrator who doesn’t like them, or from someone who doesn’t like an approach to their curriculum. All teachers are affected by this.”
Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers President
“Sadly, there is nothing in this opinion that suggests a thoughtful analysis of how these statutes should work. There is very little that lays groundwork for a path forward. Other states have determined better ways—ways that don’t pit teachers against students, but lift up entire communities. Every child is entitled to a high-quality education regardless of his or her ZIP code. And no parent should have to rely on a lottery system to get his or her child into a good school.
“This will not be the last word. As this case makes it through an appeal, we will continue to do what we’ve done in state after state. We will continue to work with parents and communities to fight for safe and welcoming neighborhood public schools that value both kids and the women and men who work with them. No wealthy benefactor with an extreme agenda will detour us from our path to reclaim the promise of public education.”
Tom Torlakson, State Superintendent of Public Instruction
“All children deserve great teachers. Attracting, training, and nurturing talented and dedicated educators are among the most important tasks facing every school district, tasks that require the right mix of tools, resources, and expertise. Today’s ruling may inadvertently make this critical work even more challenging than it already is.
“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.”
Josh Pechthalt, California Federation of Teachers President
“We know that this is not the last word on this case. We know what’s in the record of evidence, and we have a high degree of confidence that we will prevail on the appeal.”
John Lee, Teach Plus Senior Executive Director
“We are thrilled with Judge Treu’s ruling in the groundbreaking trial of Vergara v. California. The success of the plaintiffs in this case is a historic milestone in public education. It reaffirms students’ fundamental constitutional right to equality in education.
“By resetting the conversation to where it should have been all along — on putting the best interests of students first — Vergara has created an opportunity for all stakeholders to come together and build a better education system. But our work is not done yet. All states should take a look at their existing education and question whether statutes such as California’s arcane dismissal or “Last-in, First-out” laws really give all students an equal shot at reaching their full potential. As we embark on modernizing California’s education system, we call on the legislatures in our state and across the country to continue to do just that.”
Michelle Rhee, StudentsFirst Founder and CEO
“Judge Treu’s groundbreaking ruling is a victory for California’s students and affirms their fundamental right to a quality education – regardless of their zip code. I applaud the parents and the nine courageous students who stood up for their future and their right to a quality education. It is my hope that this movement continues on the national stage for all of our students.
“The great promise of education is its power to end the vicious cycle of poverty and inequality that destroys too many families. While today’s ruling is a victory, the fight for students is far from over. It is now time for legislative leaders to work with the communities, parents and students they represent to build a first-class educational system in California.”
Nina Rees, National Alliance President and CEO
“This is a win for students. The court has recognized the right of all students to benefit from the instruction of a high-quality teacher, regardless of a student’s race or socioeconomic status.
“Research shows that teachers are the single most influential factor in the classroom for predicting future student success so it is important to ensure that all students have access to a high-quality teacher and are not stuck in failing schools. We look forward to seeing the precedent this sets in California, as well as the doors it will open for similar lawsuits to be filed in other states with tenure laws that fail to put the needs of students first.”
“This case has ignited passions on all sides of the education spectrum. We hope today’s verdict will now spark conversations in local districts about how best to reshape education policies around critical issues like how we hire, evaluate, support and retain top talent to do the toughest and most important job on earth – teach our future.
“While litigation and legislation provide important guardrails, Educators 4 Excellence believes those directly impacted by what happens in our classrooms should be proactively identifying better strategies to improve teaching and learning. Teachers, school leaders, and parents can and should lead the conversation about the incredibly important issues facing our classrooms and careers such as teacher evaluation and dismissal. This case can be a victory for everyone involved if adults respond in a way that organizes our priorities around the needs of California’s students.”
“The implications of this are absolutely huge and will not be well understood for years. But one thing we do know is that the door for wide scale school reform is open. What the court did today was say that the laws on permanent employment, tenure, and dismissal are unconstitutional and shall not stand. In part because of the huge impact this will have, the court is expecting the state and California Teachers Association to appeal this decision (which they will).”
“The laws will not be wiped out until the appeals process is done. But appeal is a high bar. And given the strength of the students’ arguments, it would be surprising for the appellate court to reverse course on all three issues. Today is a victory for kids and for progress. Today is a victory for all of California. What this means is new laws must now be written. We have a chance to work with parents and other allies to get the laws that our children deserve and our state needs.”