California judge rules teacher tenure unconstitutional

A California judge decided today that tenure and other protections for teachers are unconstitutional.

The ruling could have an impact across the country.

Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu said the teacher tenure system discriminates against minority and low income students, by pairing them with ineffective teachers who are almost impossible to fire in striking down the five laws as violations of the California Constitution.

“And what this is, is a bait and switch. It is an attack on teachers, which is a socially acceptable way to attack students and school stability,” Alex Caputo-Pearl, United Teachers Los Angeles president-elect said.

A lawyer for the California teachers union says the laws help prevent teachers from being fired on a whim.

The union plans to appeal the ruling. A final ruling may take years.

A spokesman for the Hawaii State Teachers Association says our tenure system does not protect ineffective teachers, and does not prevent an administrator from firing a teacher.

Judge Rolf M. Treu’s ruling on Vergara v. California

Statement from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Regarding the Decision in Vergara v. California

“For students in California and every other state, equal opportunities for learning must include the equal opportunity to be taught by a great teacher. The students who brought this lawsuit are, unfortunately, just nine out of millions of young people in America who are disadvantaged by laws, practices and systems that fail to identify and support our best teachers and match them with our neediest students. Today’s court decision is a mandate to fix these problems. Together, we must work to increase public confidence in public education. This decision presents an opportunity for a progressive state with a tradition of innovation to build a new framework for the teaching profession that protects students’ rights to equal educational opportunities while providing teachers the support, respect and rewarding careers they deserve. My hope is that today’s decision moves from the courtroom toward a collaborative process in California that is fair, thoughtful, practical and swift. Every state, every school district needs to have that kind of conversation. At the federal level, we are committed to encouraging and supporting that dialogue in partnership with states. At the same time, we all need to continue to address other inequities in education–including school funding, access to quality early childhood programs and school discipline.”

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