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California Court Affirms Student Rights

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Landmark Vergara Decision to Transform Teacher Tenure Policies

CER Press Release
Washington, D.C.
June 10, 2014

In a tremendous victory for California students, the Superior Court decision in Vergara v. California has upheld the constitutional rights of students by significantly reversing unproductive teacher employment practices.

“Today’s Vergara decision represents a monumental affirmation that it is well within the constitutional rights of California students to access a high-caliber education,” said Kara Kerwin, president of The Center for Education Reform.

“By standing up for their constitutional rights, these nine courageous student plaintiffs have laid the groundwork for a system that properly honors teachers as professionals,” Kerwin added.

In May 2012, nine student plaintiffs sued the State of California to invalidate teacher employment practices, to include the ‘Last-In-First-Out’ retention policy, the Permanent Employment Statute, and the incredibly onerous dismissal process that protects ineffective teachers. The case officially went to trial this past January.

“Any framework that prioritizes hire date does a disservice to teachers, who deserve merit-based appreciation like other professionals, and does a disservice to students in need of a superior educator at the head of the classroom,” said Kerwin.

“Teacher quality provisions should value the positive role a teacher can play in a student’s life, and encourage student outcomes. Policies such as ‘last-in-first-out,’ and permanent employment statutes create toxic safeguards and do nothing to support those who go the extra mile.”

“The Vergara decision is no doubt encouraging, however the appeal process will have to play out before there are any real effects. Although the Center for Education Reform’s Parent Power Index indicates there is still much work to do, this victory has the potential to send shockwaves across the United States, challenging archaic employment practices that continue to plague the public school system.”