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Vergara defense lawyers preview their case — if they need it

Vanessa Romo | February 20, 2014

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Martha Sanchez, a parent who is 'sick and tired' of corporate interests in public schools.

Martha Sanchez, a parent who is ‘sick and tired of corporate interests’ in public schools.

As defendants in the Vergara trial were asking the court to dismiss the case, attorneys for the state’s two biggest teachers union met with reporters outside the courthouse to offer a preview of arguments they intend to make if the judge denies their request, and the trial resumes next month with witnesses for the defense.

Jim Finberg, lead counsel for the California Teachers Association said existing teacher tenure protections, “help school districts recruit and retain highly effective teachers.” He said the laws being challenged help keep a stable workforce in schools which is vital to student learning.

Finberg added, “Without job security, teachers would have to worry about teaching evolution or Islam.”

Pasadena teacher Christine McLaughlin, who will be testifying on behalf of the state, said plaintiffs have offered no alternatives.

McLaughlin, who was honored a teacher of the year by the county, teaches at Webster Elementary School in Pasadena Unified School District, one of the schools that has been identified as “ineffective” in the case.

“The anecdotes plaintiffs have tried to use as evidence have no connection to these laws and could have been given by students in any other state with widely different laws governing teacher employment,” she said.

Dean Vogel, president of the state’s other big teachers union, the California Teachers Association, called the lawsuit, which is financed by Students Matter, “an ideological red herring, financed by billionaires to pit parents against teachers.”

That sentiment was echoed by parent and community activist Martha Sanchez.

“I am sick and tired of private companies using parents to advance their own agenda,” she said.

Defense lawyers were expected to file their motion to dismiss this afternoon.


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