Arguments begin today in the case of Vergara v. California. Plaintiffs aim to overturn several state laws that protect bad teachers. Students Matter, the group behind the suit, says the California laws “unconstitutionally” deprive children of their “fundamental right” to a quality education. Student Matters contend that it is “minority and low-income students” who are hurt most by “grossly ineffective teachers.”
Students Matter argues that “research shows effective teachers are the single most important factor to ensuring a student’s academic success — even more important than funding.” If the court agrees that a good teacher in the classroom is the key to learning, then making it easier for California schools to shed ineffective teachers” ought to be a priority.
Vergara v California
The legal argument is that California statutes violate the Equal Protection Clause by forcing school districts to keep failing teachers in the classroom year after year, with devastating consequences for the students assigned to their classrooms. Arguing the case for Stduent Matters are a couple high-powered constitutional lawyers including Ted Olsen of Bush v. Gore fame, and Theodore Boutrous.
Of course California Teacher unions oppose the case.
On December 13, 2013, the Court denied the State’s and the teachers unions’ motions for summary judgment, allowing the case to proceed to trial. On December 31, 2014, the State and the teachers unions made a final last-ditch effort to stall and avoid the Vergara v. California education equality trial, but the Court of Appeal denied their petitions.
In a recent post at EdSource, Seth Rosenthal, a member of the Governing Board of the San Carlos School District, wrote
Relationships between local school districts and their bargaining units would be forever altered, and school districts and teachers would have to quickly find a new paradigm for hiring, evaluating, and firing staff. However, the folks at Students Matter are quick to point out that Vergara would not eliminate due process protections that currently exist in California Government Code for all public employees, including teachers.