Three powerful liberal papers hail Vergara ruling

by Chris Reed | June 16, 2014 6:15 am

Vergara-Trial-WebsiteThat the Vergara vs. California ruling last week is a landmark that will affect U.S. public education going forward — even if it is appealed and thrown out — is a general consensus among the pundits and education experts I’ve read. Of course, union officials disagree. And so do many of the tired professional contrarians one runs into on social media and comment boards.

Sorry, folks — you can just be wrong. Vergara reframes the way the public looks at schools in such a fundamentally anti-teacher union way that it’s going to make some of the most familiar teacher arguments seem idiotic. For example, the frequent CTA refrain that it is “fighting for children” is going to seem laughable (or Orwellian[1]) to anyone who has read Vergara coverage.

To those in denial — to the folks I still meet who think the CTA’s noble talking points are truly reflective of how the CTA wields its power — I’m happy to present evidence that three of the four most influential liberal newspapers in America agree with me. (The other one — the Boston Globe — may also be down on teacher unions, but I couldn’t find evidence it had written a Vergara editorial.)

N.Y. Times: ‘a new chapter in equal education struggle’

When states are sued for providing inferior education to poor and minority children, the issue is usually money — disproportionately more money for white students, less for others. A California judge has now brought another deep-rooted inequity to light: poor teaching.

In an important decision issued on Tuesday, Judge Rolf M. Treu of the Los Angeles Superior Court ruled that state laws governing the hiring, firing and job security of teachers violate the California Constitution and disproportionately saddle poor and minority children with ineffective teachers.

The ruling opens a new chapter in the equal education struggle. It also underscores a shameful problem that has cast a long shadow over the lives of children, not just in California but in the rest of the country as well.

The plaintiffs in the case, Vergara vs. California, are nine public school students who charged that state laws forced districts to give tenure to teachers, regardless of whether they can do the job, making it virtually impossible to fire even the worst of them.

In a blistering decision, Judge Treu agreed: ”The evidence is compelling. Indeed, it shocks the conscience.”

Washington Post: ‘groundbreaking ruling’

A judge who struck down California’slaws on teacher tenure and layoffs said the decision was based solely on the legal aspects of the case but added that he was mindful of the intense political debate about these issues. It is “beyond question,” he wrote, that there will be further political discourse. We certainly hope so. The issues about education equality laid bare by this groundbreaking ruling cry out for new ways of thinking. …

Treu … found that job protections afforded to teachers violate the rights of minority and low-income students to an equal education because they are the ones disproportionately stuck with the incompetent teachers who are hard, if not impossible, to fire. Constitutional rights in education typically have been tied to equitable funding, so the judge entered new territory by declaring a basic right to an effective teacher.

The trial featured powerful testimony about the effect of incompetent teachers on students. “The evidence is compelling. Indeed, it shocks the conscience,” the judge wrote.

Los Angeles Times:  Lawmakers ‘too deferential’ to CTA

California’s extraordinary protections for public school teachers were dealt a heavy blow Tuesday when a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled that the state’s tenure laws unconstitutionally deprive students of an adequate education. To this extent, the judge’s opinion was absolutely correct: The tenure laws are bad policy. In almost no other field of work is it remotely as hard to fire someone for incompetence, or for not doing the job at all. Lawmakers have been far too deferential to the powerful California Teachers Assn. over the years, and now they have been given a strong prod to change their ways.

I’m glad that this ruling has gotten as much coverage as it has. But it’s odd that no newspaper I could find on Nexis or Google had done an analysis piece about how this might affect the Dem coalition. How can all the party’s minority lawmakers stand proud with the CTA and CFT after this?

I truly am baffled by the absence of stories on this obvious angle. The intraparty fight pitting Asian lawmakers vs. Latino and black lawmakers over Prop. 209 has been covered by the Sacramento media. Why not this?


  1. Orwellian:

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