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Vergara backer offers Sacramento a guide for new teacher laws

LA School Report | January 7, 2015

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Student plaintiff Elizabeth Vergara at a press conference

Student plaintiff Elizabeth Vergara at a press conference

With an umambiguous victory in the Vergara lawsuit last year, the advocacy group that supported it financially, Students Matter, has developed a blueprint for the new legislature in Sacramento to rewrite the laws struck down by the trial court.

Never mind that the case is on appeal by the defendants — the state and its two biggest teacher unions — which are seeking to keep in place laws governing tenure, dismissal and layoffs that the court ruled unconstitutional.

Students Matter is circulating a how-to guide for lawmakers to consider changes mandated by the lower court.

“Vergara laid bare the moral imperative to ensure that our kids are given every opportunity to succeed, including access to effective educators,” Dave Welch, founder of Students Matter, said it a press release. “While our legal fight continues in the courtroom, we anticipate that the Legislature will be under pressure from special interest groups to legislate cursory and superficial solutions to a truly broken system. Our kids deserve better. California needs a bold and forward-thinking new policies.”

The group’s “Policy Pillars” also include recommendations to address how California can evaluate teacher performance in the classroom as a critical component to ensuring quality teachers are in the classroom.

Vergara is expected to be heard by the California Court of Appeal later this year. Students Matter said it anticipates the state legislature will be under pressure from special interests to legislate a “Band-Aid solution” rather than overall reform, saying “the legislative changes demanded by Vergara to California’s laws cannot be cursory or superficial, and are in-fact solvable.”

“We urge the Legislature to weigh carefully any bills proposing minor tweaks to the laws challenged by Vergara,” said Welch. “The changes to our Education Code required by Vergara are clear, and anything less is contrary to the spirit of Vergara and will be strongly opposed by Students Matter and all those who know that it’s time to put our kids, and their future, first.”

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