OC Political

A right-of-center blog covering local, statewide, and national politics

Posts Tagged ‘Vergara vs. the State of California’

Brown v Board of Education Shamefully Revisited in California

Posted by Walter Myers III on June 15, 2014

Julia MaciasA beautiful thing happened this past week. It was not Barack Obama’s visit to Laguna Beach where, as usual, he was whisked into a private gated community at taxpayer expense where the public had no access to him, where he held a $32,000 a plate fundraiser that only the super-rich could attend. These happen to be the same super-rich that he calls “fat cats” for not paying their “fair share” of taxes while telling the rest of us who have no access to him that he is fighting against them for us. Sure thing, Mr. President. We’re just that gullible and stupid to believe people like you who say one thing and do another while you enrich yourself and those who have sold their souls to jump into bed with big government. I believe it is called crony capitalism. Anyway, this article is not about the injustices of the lawless Obama administration foisted on an American populous that should have known better than to have voted him into office the first time, let alone a second. It is about the astounding legal victory handed to California students and parents, striking down the state tenure and seniority system as unconstitutional that has consigned poor and minority students to less than a quality education.

Those children of California who have been least able to defend themselves due to circumstance of birth have, in effect, been subjected to racist policies driven by the stunning hutzpah, avarice, and greed displayed by the California teachers unions, all the while supported by Democrats in the state legislature who were more than happy to take union campaign contributions and look the other way while California’s children were failing to be educated. The teachers unions continue to defend bad laws and are promising to appeal the ruling handed down by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu, who judged that five statutes of the California Education Code are unconstitutional since they violate the fundamental right of all students to receive a quality education. Notably, and truthfully, Judge Treu compared the Vergara v California case to the landmark Brown v Board of Education Supreme Court case that ordered desegregation 60 years ago in 1954, which ended “separate but equal” educational facilities that everyone knew to be inherently unequal. The Vergara case is based on nine public school students’ claims (the plaintiffs) that “grossly ineffective teachers obtaining and retaining permanent employment… are disproportionately situated in schools serving predominantly low-income and minority students.” The case they made couldn’t be more clear, as the judge noted.

While my view is that the state laws did not have the original intent to be racist, that was their effect. And that has been their effect for a very long time with the full knowledge of both the teachers unions and the Democrat-controlled legislature in Sacramento that is beholden to the California Teachers Association $300 million war chest. Just as Barack Obama has an insatiable desire for the $32,000 a plate breakfast fundraisers populated by coastal gentry liberals and billionaire tech oligarchs, the Democrat Party of California has an insatiable desire for teachers union money since it is easy and plentiful. If a poor education for children other than their own is the consequence, then that’s a small price to pay to stay in office. When these children reach adulthood and enter the workforce unequipped, then they will become easy pickings for government handouts, and thus lifelong Democrat voters to keep the Democrat majority in power. And you know who is going to be asked to foot the bill. It’s just too easy when you don’t care that lives are destroyed in the process when they have barely just begun. The good news is that the parents and their brave nine children who took action over this grave injustice have emerged victorious as have all other parents and their children in California, at least for now. Let’s only hope that governor Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris will come to their senses and cease upholding what are clearly bad laws. Let’s end this injustice now with no more appeals.

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CTA Hypocrisy Exposed by Vergara Ruling

Posted by Mark Bucher on June 11, 2014

The California Teachers Association is the most powerful special interest in California. They often run ads touting how much they care about education and our students, while at the same time steadfastly defending laws that make it virtually impossible to fire grossly ineffective teachers who can have a devastating impact on the education of students. Yesterday a judge in Los Angeles exposed this hypocrisy by ruling that CTA-backed laws protecting ineffective teachers are illegal because they deprive our children of a quality education.

The judge found:

“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 ineffective teachers currently active in California classrooms…The number of grossly ineffective teachers has a direct, real, appreciable, and negative impact on a significant number of California students, now and well into the future for as long as said teachers hold their positions.”

“This Court…finds that based on…the evidence presented at trial, 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.”

The CTA and their allies set up this system, profit by it, and will fight to keep it this way. But this landmark court case, Vergara vs. the State of California, has been a long time coming. The interests of students are finally being heard.

Vergara claimed that three current statutes violate the civil right to equal education. The first challenge regarded tenure, which requires an administrator’s decision after only 16 months, which the plaintiffs argued is far too short a period of time in which to identify an ineffective teacher. The second concerned dismissal practices, which are costly and time consuming, making it impractical to fire a teacher. The third challenge was to the “last-in, first-out” layoff rules, which force school districts to fire top teachers and retain ineffective ones.

This ruling, which will be appealed by the CTA (of course – why would they put the education of students before the interests of grossly ineffective teachers), is far reaching.

In a mesmerizing 56 minute closing argument, plaintiff attorney Marcellus McRae dissected the objections of the defense. As he repeatedly cited, it was the witnesses for the defense who, withering under cross-examination, provided some of the most compelling testimony. Again and again they admitted that yes, it is impossible to evaluate a teacher for tenure in only 16 months, yes, it is for all practical purposes impossible to fire ineffective teachers, and yes, LIFO layoff rules cause districts to lose some of their finest teachers, while retaining many who are ineffective.

McRae’s argument concerning the disproportionate harm these rules cause low-income and minority communities was impossible to refute. Good teachers accept new job offers and migrate to better schools while poor teachers take advantage of their tenure to remain in place. Vacancies are then filled by poor teachers getting transferred out of good schools because they can’t be dismissed. The few good new teachers who are attracted to poor schools are lost whenever there’s a layoff.

The judge agreed.

In their official response the CTA made this accusation, “Students Matter is supported by Michelle Rhee and Students First, Parent Revolution Executive Director Ben Austin, Billionaire and school privatizer Eli Broad, former lawmaker Gloria Romero, and other corporate education reformers with an interest in privatizing public education and attacking teachers’ unions.” But their logic doesn’t hold up.

If anything, the abolition of current laws that protect ineffective public school teachers will not further the agenda of private education special interests, but rather help to rescue public education. A Machiavellian strategy to push private educational solutions would be to allow the public school system to fail completely. If proponents of private education and charter schools are supporting Vergara, it’s because it’s the right thing to do for California’s students.

The coalition that opposed the Vergara plaintiffs was obvious – the public employee unions representing teachers. Apart from sharing a conviction that California’s students deserve better, the group supporting Vergara defies simple characterization. That they have coalesced on this issue, and are likely destined to fundamentally improve the rules governing California’s public schools, should be cause for great hope to anyone who wants to reform California’s public institutions. All of them.

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Mark Bucher is the president of the California Policy Center

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