A ruling Tuesday that found California laws governing teacher tenure and the process of firing public school teachers unconstitutional has provoked strong reactions from teachers and education activists.
The California judge ruled that these laws deprive students — especially underprivileged students — of the best teachers and therefore of their constitutional right to a quality public education. The California Teachers Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union, with 325,000 members, has vowed to appeal the ruling. “We plan to appeal this decision on behalf of students and educators, while teachers continue to provide all students a quality public education every day,” CTA president Dean E. Vogel said.
Unions argued that the lawsuit unfairly points to teachers as the source of poor outcomes from public education, when these problems are really the result of larger forces like poverty and inequality. “It’s another example of the ‘blame teachers first’ approach to solving complex education problems,” a CTA spokesman Frank Wells said.
The president of the National Education Association, Dennis Van Roekel, called the ruling “deeply flawed” and condemned the intentions of the students, parents, and other advocates who brought the case to court. The lawsuit was backed by the nonprofit group Students Matter, founded by Silicon Valley entrepreneur David F. Welch. “Let’s be clear: This lawsuit was never about helping students, but is yet another attempt by millionaires and corporate special interests to undermine the teaching profession and push their own ideological agenda on public schools and students while working to privatize public education,” Roekel said.
Vogel concurred, stating that the lawsuit was “manufactured by a Silicon Valley millionaire and a corporate PR firm to undermine the teaching profession and push their agenda on our schools.”