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Excerpts From California Teacher Tenure Ruling

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Silicon Valley entrepreneur and founder of Students Matter David Welch makes comments on the Vergara v. California lawsuit verdict in Los Angeles, Tuesday, June 10, 2014. A judge struck down tenure and other job protections for California's public school teachers as unconstitutional Tuesday, saying such laws harm students, especially poor and minority ones, by saddling them with bad teachers. In a landmark decision that could influence the gathering debate over tenure across the country, Los Ang | ASSOCIATED PRESS

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Excerpts from Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu's ruling Tuesday that five California laws governing teacher tenure, layoffs and dismissals are unconstitutional:


All sides to this litigation agree that competent teachers are a critical, if not the most important component of success of a child's in-school educational experience. All sides also agree that grossly ineffective teachers substantially undermine the ability of that child to succeed in school. Evidence has been elicited in this trial of the specific effect of grossly ineffective teachers on students. The evidence is compelling. Indeed, it shocks the conscience .... . There is also no dispute that there are a significant number of grossly ineffective teachers currently active in California classrooms.


Plaintiffs have proven, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the challenged statutes impose a real and appreciable impact on students' fundamental right to equality of education and that they impose a disproportionate burden on poor and minority students.


(T)he Permanent Employment Statute does not provide nearly enough time for an informed decision to be made regarding the decision of tenure (critical for both students and teachers.) As a result, teachers are being re-elected who would not have been had more time been provided for the process .... This court finds that both students and teachers are unfairly, unnecessarily and for no legally cognizable reason (let alone a compelling one), disadvantaged by the current Permanent Employment Statute.


There is no question that teachers should be afforded reasonable due process when their dismissals are sought. However, based on the evidence before this court, it finds the current system required by the Dismissal Statutes to be so complex, time-consuming and expensive as to make an effective, efficient yet fair dismissal of a grossly ineffective teacher illusory.


The last-hired teacher is the statutorily-mandated first-fired one when lay-offs occur. No matter how gifted the junior teacher, and no matter how grossly ineffective the senior teacher, the junior gifted one, who all parties agree is creating a positive atmosphere for his/her students, is separated from them and a senior grossly ineffective one who all parties agree is harming the students entrusted to her/him is left in place. The result is classroom disruption on two fronts, a lose-lose situation. Contrast this to the junior/efficient teacher remaining and a senior/incompetent teacher being removed, a win-win situation, and the point is clear.

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