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California Judge: Public school tenure creates unconstitutional unequal schools

California Judge: Public school tenure creates unconstitutional unequal schools

Finds Equal Protection violation since “grossly ineffective” teachers disproportionately in minority schools.

Well this is an interesting development, Calif. court rules teacher tenure creates unequal conditions:

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled Tuesday that tenure, seniority and other job protections for teachers have created unequal conditions in public schools and deprive poor children of the best teachers.

In a case that could have national implications for the future of teacher tenure, Judge Rolf Treu sided with a Silicon Valley mogul against some of the most powerful labor unions in the country.

In a 16-page ruling, in the case of Vergara v. California, Treu struck down three state laws as unconstitutional. The laws grant tenure to teachers after two years, require layoffs by seniority, and call for a complex and lengthy process before a teacher can be fired.

David F. Welch, founder of an optical telecommunications manufacturing firm, charged that job protections allow the state’s worst educators to continue teaching and that those ineffective teachers are concentrated in high-poverty, minority schools, amounting to a civil rights violation.

The full decision is embedded below. The court stayed its injunction pending appeal, so no changes will take place immediately.

The sound of the teachers’ union screaming and crying is ringing in my ears and I can’t focus:

Like the Vergara lawsuit itself, today’s ruling is deeply flawed. CTA, CFT and the state of California will appeal. We will appeal on behalf of students and educators. Circumventing the legislative process to strip teachers of their professional rights hurts our students and our schools.

California Decision Tenure Unconstitutional


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Tenure and Seniority definitely help ineffective teachers to keep their jobs.
But there is something fundamentally wrong in saying that such ineffective teachers concentrate “in high poverty, minority schools.”

The truth is, there’s currently NO effective measuring instrument in place to assess teacher quality. States use standardized test scores, but of course, the scores don’t look pretty “in high poverty, minority schools.”

Can we blame all teachers?

I have several friends teaching in some of those schools, and the stories are horrific: truancy, tardiness, lack of effort, poor parent participation, disrespectful students and disrespectful parents, vandalism, fights …
Now sprinkle some affirmative action on top of that …

    RandomOpinion in reply to Exiliado. | June 10, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    I would disagree that there is no effective way to measure teacher quality. This is done all time at the post-secondary level. Undergraduates and graduate students seek out programs and professors who they deem to be best fit for their own education based on tangible results such as job and graduate school placement, research record, and standardized test results.

    Why shouldn’t similar factors be used to assess K-12 education?

      Exiliado in reply to RandomOpinion. | June 10, 2014 at 4:25 pm

      I did not say there is NO effective method.

      I said there is NO effective method IN PLACE.

      When they say “effective” or “ineffective” they are referring to test scores, so their reasoning is flawed.

      Juba Doobai! in reply to RandomOpinion. | June 10, 2014 at 5:49 pm

      You’ve never taught public school, have you? Exiliado is correct. Having PS kids evaluate teachers assumes too many things that are false. Put cameras in the classroom and record for a week without the teachers’ knowledge.

    tom swift in reply to Exiliado. | June 10, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    Can we blame all teachers?

    Is this relevant?

    The Court seems to consider it adequately demonstrated that some teachers are indeed to blame, and that laws making it impractical to remove those teachers are unconstitutional.

    I have several friends teaching in some of those schools, and the stories are horrific

    I have a relative who decided on a different career path once she found out that the urban teacher’s program she was in would subsidize her purchase of a bulletproof vest.

    But here, plaintiffs apparently didn’t claim that all teachers in lousy schools were lousy. Some manage to do their jobs despite difficulties, and a relatively small percentage do not.

      JackRussellTerrierist in reply to tom swift. | June 10, 2014 at 4:57 pm

      Nothing any court can do will change the poor performance of inner-city kids until their culture changes its preference for violence, crime, single parent out-of-wedlock welfare babies and the anti-white sentiments of victimhood and “you owe me” to one that doesn’t disparage those who wish to get an education as “acting white”, that there are no guaranteed outcomes in real life, and that violence and criminal activities will get you dead or a lifetime of hearing a slamming prison door in your ear.

      That said, bwahahaha to the teachers union.

      That many of the teachers in those schools were AA’d through the education system themselves is a big part of the problem. They need to all be fired and booted off the public trough.

        Juba Doobai! in reply to JackRussellTerrierist. | June 10, 2014 at 5:54 pm

        Plus, the kids are not interested in reading anything not written by black authors. Then, when you give them books by black authors, you discover that what they really want to read is urban hip hop stories that reflect life as they know it and with characters who act and talk like they do. They limit themselves to that extent.

      Exiliado in reply to tom swift. | June 10, 2014 at 8:28 pm


      Of course it is!

      They don’t have any valid measuring instrument to separate effective teachers from ineffective ones.
      Let’s bring my son and his friends again. Take a teacher, lousy or not, and put him in front of their class. They will excel the standardized test, no matter what the teacher does or fails to do. Teacher gets labeled “effective.”
      Move THE SAME TEACHER to Trayvon Martin and Rachel Jeantel’s class. Same teacher gets labeled “ineffective“.

      Sure, bad teachers ought to be fired, but first we need to know who they are and where they are.
      It will do no good to American Education to start firing teachers just because their students are a bunch of moronic thug wannabes.
      Even more so, I think its a bit moronic to start talking about constitutionality based on the results of poor effort on the part of a bunch of lazy thug wannabes.

        tom swift in reply to Exiliado. | June 11, 2014 at 11:42 am

        By your reasoning, all teachers would perform abysmally in miserable classrooms, and all teachers would perform brilliantly in good classrooms.

        My own experience tells me that this proposition is absolute rubbish.

        It’s really not that tough. The students certainly know who the bums are, even if nobody else can figure it out.

          Exiliado in reply to tom swift. | June 11, 2014 at 12:08 pm

          Change all into most and you got it.

          And no, those students don’t know zit, and they don’t even care.
          For them school is just a place where they go to socialize with others like them. For their parents, school is nothing but free daycare.

          randian in reply to tom swift. | June 11, 2014 at 4:41 pm

          Most any teacher would look good with high-IQ students, and look terrible with low-IQ students, regardless of their actual knowledge and talent.

“Circumventing the legislative process to strip teachers of their professional rights hurts our students and our schools.”

But it’s hunky-dory to defeat the mandate of the people in shaping their own state constitution.

Odd. Seems like someone’s rice bowl has been shaken.

This actually is not a decision the Left is really fighting. They simply cannot be seen as celebrating the ability now to fire and discipline veteran teachers who are not on board with the largely affective, change the student’s values, attitudes, and beliefs, new definition of Effective Teaching.

The unions want the racial and economic justice vision of the future US tied to targeting social and emotional learning instead of content knowledge. This mandate also comes from the feds who are insisting that Effective Teaching be tied to Student Growth. They simply leave out that Growth is defined as changing values, attitudes. beliefs, feelings, or behaviors.

The Vergara ruling was a high priority for the folks at the Ella Baker Center at UCLA. It’s not because reading is now to be taught properly. These are the same folks behind the curricula that led to the reading and math wars.

On the other hand, there are lousy teachers that benefit from high test scores obtained by kids from caring, middle class or professional families.

My son, for example, has been in a gifted class since third grade. The whole group stayed together through the end of middle school. We, the parents have become friends and help each other to push our kids forward.

They had some wonderful teachers, but they also had a few lousy morons.
They all usually scored really, really high in their tests (called FCAT here in Florida).
Those some lousy morons are considered effective teachers thanks to my(our) busting my(our) ass(es) at home, helping my(our) kid with everything the teachers could not.

    Ex-it is the lousy teachers who will benefit from this ruling because of the change in what constitutes being deemed Effective. This shuts down the previous barrier to Radical Ed Reform of the teacher closing the door and still teaching content.

    The number of stellar teachers now being written up for still wanting to lecture would break your heart. The far-Left wanted this ruling today. To get to Equity and Excellence as they are defined under the new Justice-Ed alliance.

    It’s not the Webster’s definition.

pablo panadero | June 10, 2014 at 4:33 pm

Some children are more equal than others? This is only unconstitutional because it affected children from minority races more than the children of majority races?

In order to make it constitutional, all they have to do is cause the test scores of the majority race to sink. It will be politically easier to move all of those teachers to “good” schools then it will be to fire the ones at “bad” schools.

I am beginning to agree with Prof. Reynolds (Instapundit), sending your kids to public school is a form of abuse.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to pablo panadero. | June 10, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    My husband is a retired teacher from California. He despises all unions and believes that the teachers union, along with the race hustlers and left wing control over public education, are by far the biggest factors causing the deplorable state of public education.

    Children raised to value education and who want to do well are held down and grossly underserved because regulations, curricula and performance standards are designed to find ways to advance the most poorly performing students.

That ruling is chocked full if reactor grade irony.

So now the possible remedies would be to either fire the incompetent teachers, or spread them out across the entire school system to lessen or eliminate their disparate impact.

Option one means grossly irritating the teachers union, while simultaneously thinning from their ranks those voters/donors most beholden to the union (and therefore to their Democrat Party allies.)

Option two means John Q. Public (and their progeny) take an educational hit in the interest of “fairness.”

Any guess which way the State of California is going to lean?

This is going to be like the evil Spock version of forced school busing.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to ThomasD. | June 10, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    I doubt that the firings would bother the union powers because the firees would be replaced. The new hires would be either less troublesome or no worse than those they replaced. Sure, the union will make noise about it, but what do they really care? They’re just milking and bilking taxpayer funds indirectly anyway. Dollars are fungible. The union doesn’t care which teacher they get it from, and if the new teachers are better than the old ones, the union has fewer grievance cases draining resources.

      Were that the case then the union would never have made those teachers untouchable in the first place.

      No, the union knows they are running a protection racket, and the protected know how their bread is being buttered.

      Beyond those points consider – straight up firings will create vacancies exactly where?

      Now, given the current employment situation there may very well be a pool of future teachers willing to rush in and fill those gaps. But just how attached to the union will they prove having knowledge of just how little the union can do for them should things turn ugly?

      There is also a movement in California to allow teachers to refuse to pay the portion of their dues that is devoted to political activity. The younger teachers have noticed that the union does not operate in their interests. This hasn’t gotten rid of the inequity that newer teachers suffer, which translates into pink slips EVERY year for the first several years, but it has done a little to put the unions on notice.

      Unions still substantially pay for elections in California. This is the core problem.

    Valerie in reply to ThomasD. | June 11, 2014 at 9:35 am

    So now the possible remedies would be to either ….. or spread them out across the entire school system to lessen or eliminate their disparate impact.

    They did this in San Diego Independent School District. One of my sons got a math teacher who speaks english as a second language.

      Chem_Geek in reply to Valerie. | June 11, 2014 at 3:03 pm

      “They did this in San Diego Independent School District. One of my sons got a math teacher who speaks english as a second language.”

      Meh. Happens all the time in undergraduate, and even graduate school.

Can’t fault the reasoning but I don’t expect the decision to stand.

The court stayed its injunction pending appeal, so no changes will take place immediately.

There seems to be a built-in failure mode there. Suppose nobody appeals? The injunction stays “stayed”?

Agree with the Judge entirely on the POLICY implications.

Legally, he hasn’t got a leg to stand on.

He did exactly what Liberal Activist “judges” love to do: substitute his personal policy opinion for that of the majority of legislators elected by the people of his state.

This will, and should, get overturned on appeal. Unfortunately, there’s no hope for the voters in that state to actually do what this Judge clearly understands is in the best interest of their children.

I’m not so sure how national the implications of this ruling really are, because California has a constitutional right to a FREE EDUCATION on the part of the students. The resulting case law is incomprehensible to those who are not aware of this right.

So, the constitutional rights of students in California are substantially qualitatively and quantitatively different from students in other states. For example, a judge in California ruled that, because of the constitutional right to a FREE education, schools cannot charge fees for extracurricular activities. This meant that parents were not allowed to pay for band uniforms. Similarly, schools can ask, but cannot require, students to bring school supplies — such as paper, pens, and calculators — to school.

healthguyfsu | June 11, 2014 at 12:46 pm

Many people on here have no clue what it’s like to be a teacher in today’s mad world.

Teachers are America’s scapegoats. If kids can’t or don’t want to learn, it’s the teacher’s fault.

They are assaulted by students, parents, administrators, politicians, bloggers, and random commenters. Do some people stick up for them? Sure…but many others would rather abuse them.

I’m not saying they are all great so don’t get me wrong. I, like many of you, also share disgust for the despicable education associations and liberal coddlers that have ruined education. However, teachers have been caught in the middle of this civil war’s crossfire and are getting pummeled. It’s no wonder they gravitate to the pandering left in that traumatic environment.

The teacher unions have way too much political clout for this to be the last word. And that same political clout has led to this life time job regardless of performance which is not unique to teachers. Let’s not loose sight of the good teachers who are also caught in this trap and add to that the fact that public schools are required to educate all including students who are constant disruptions to the process those students need to be isolated in the system as they are also preventing students from receiving a proper education.

Lotta comments here, many defend the good teachers. I like good teachers, except when they defend bad teachers. How do they defend? The same way good muslims defend radical muslims, they decline to condemn them. The good teachers know who the bad teachers are, yet do nothing. The teachers’ unions know who the bad teachers are, yet support them. No wonder the good are lumped in with the bad.