The Corner

California Judge Rules Teacher Tenure Unconstitutional

A judge in Los Angeles ruled Tuesday that public school teacher tenure rules are unconstitutional, a stunning reversal that could pave the way for broad changes to public education monopolies all over the country.

In a case brought by nine students in the Los Angeles Unified School District, L.A. County Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu ruled 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.”

The case, Vergara v. California, argued that by blocking the firing of bad teachers, tenure denied L.A. students their constitutional right to a quality education. The suit was organized by the Silicon Valley reform group Students Matter on behalf of 10th grader Beatriz Vergara and eight other students. The defendants included Governor Jerry Brown, Superintendent of Public Education Tom Torlakson, and the behemoth teacher unions California Teachers Association (CTA) and the California Federation of Teachers (CFT). The defendants tried three times to dismiss the suit.

Treu’s ruling is preliminary, but if it’s upheld it could pave the way for similar changes in California and possibly throughout the United States.

Among the witnesses for the plaintiffs were L.A. Unified Superintendent John Deasy, who has been trying to reform the district for several years.

“Today’s decision is a call to action to begin implementing, without delay, the solutions that help address the problems highlighted by the Vergara trial. Every day that these laws remain in effect is an opportunity denied. It’s unacceptable, and a violation of our education system’s sacred pact with the public,” said Tuesday.

“With today’s rulings we can rectify a catastrophe,” Deasy added during a press call after the ruling. He spoke of capitalizing on the Vergara ruling to institute further reforms to the state’s notoriously dysfunctional public school system.

That sentiment has been echoed by other reformers. “The law was on our side and the evidence was overwhelming,” Marcellus McRae, the trial attorney for the plaintiffs, told the Los Angeles Times. “Whatever happens, we can’t go backward. The time of defending the status quo and business as usual — those days are over. We have to re-create a system that focuses on placing children’s interests at the forefront.”

In a post-ruling press call, McRae, said “Quality education is not a privilege limited to a few. It is a right that must be extended to every student in California.”

Parties to the case have 15 days to file objections to the ruling, and CTA has vowed to appeal. But McRae urged the unions to “lay down their swords.”

“The evidence at this trial was overwhelming, the ruling unequivocal” McRae said, “We need to move forward on a system that no longer places the burden of apathy on the backs of our most vulnerable students. We have a defining moment today in California.”

Ted Boutros, who represented the students, said laws establishing permanent teacher employment should be allowed to wither away. “We’d be in a brighter world today if those laws don’t exist,” Boutros said in press conference.

Most Popular

Elections

The First Debate Showed Why Biden Will Win

Joe Biden is not Hillary Clinton, and that will be enough to win him the election this November. This much has been clear since Super Tuesday this year during the Democratic primaries. In 2016, Hillary split several very important states with Bernie Sanders on Super Tuesday, and those she won, she won without ... Read More
Elections

The First Debate Showed Why Biden Will Win

Joe Biden is not Hillary Clinton, and that will be enough to win him the election this November. This much has been clear since Super Tuesday this year during the Democratic primaries. In 2016, Hillary split several very important states with Bernie Sanders on Super Tuesday, and those she won, she won without ... Read More
Elections

The Jerry Springer Debate

It’s a shame that Joe Biden couldn’t attend Tuesday night's debate. Okay, Biden was in attendance, but during the 90 minutes, it felt like he barely ever finished a complete sentence. It’s not clear that President Trump necessarily won the night, in the sense that people who were leaning against ... Read More
Elections

The Jerry Springer Debate

It’s a shame that Joe Biden couldn’t attend Tuesday night's debate. Okay, Biden was in attendance, but during the 90 minutes, it felt like he barely ever finished a complete sentence. It’s not clear that President Trump necessarily won the night, in the sense that people who were leaning against ... Read More
Elections

The Debate Dumpster Fire

On the menu today: You know what we’re talking about today -- that Godforsaken festival of incoherent crosstalk that was allegedly a presidential debate. It Figures That a Dumpster Fire of a Year Like This Would Bring Us a ‘Debate’ Like This Last night, I thought the first presidential debate of the ... Read More
Elections

The Debate Dumpster Fire

On the menu today: You know what we’re talking about today -- that Godforsaken festival of incoherent crosstalk that was allegedly a presidential debate. It Figures That a Dumpster Fire of a Year Like This Would Bring Us a ‘Debate’ Like This Last night, I thought the first presidential debate of the ... Read More
Elections

Everybody Loses, Which Helps Biden

Reactions to tonight's debate will likely be deeply polarized, as everything else is. There are a few things that are clear. One, this was probably the worst presidential debate in American history. There was a ton of cross-talk and shouting down, there were many bald-faced lies and obvious evasions, a former ... Read More
Elections

Everybody Loses, Which Helps Biden

Reactions to tonight's debate will likely be deeply polarized, as everything else is. There are a few things that are clear. One, this was probably the worst presidential debate in American history. There was a ton of cross-talk and shouting down, there were many bald-faced lies and obvious evasions, a former ... Read More
Elections

Trump Did Himself No Favors

The debate was a remarkable example of the fact that Donald Trump, the most self-serving man in America, doesn’t know how to do himself any favors. For the first ten or twelve minutes of the debate, he was walking away with it — Trumpy, sure, but in control and surprisingly reasonable-sounding. If he had ... Read More
Elections

Trump Did Himself No Favors

The debate was a remarkable example of the fact that Donald Trump, the most self-serving man in America, doesn’t know how to do himself any favors. For the first ten or twelve minutes of the debate, he was walking away with it — Trumpy, sure, but in control and surprisingly reasonable-sounding. If he had ... Read More