California Supreme Court tosses case challenging teacher tenure

August 23, 2016

justice 2In a split decision, the California Supreme Court decided Monday that it will not hear a case challenging tenure and other job protections for public school teachers in the state. The decision constitutes a victory for California teacher unions. [LA Times]

After the group Students Matter raised funding and recruited students to serve as plaintiffs, attorneys sued the state arguing teacher job protections cause harm to students and violate their constitutional rights. The suit challenged laws that grant tenure to teachers after two years on the job and stipulate that teacher layoffs, if necessary, must occur based primarily on seniority.

Attorneys representing a group of nine students argued that making it easier to fire bad teachers would improve academic performance and narrow the achievement gap separating white, Asian and wealthier students from their lower-income, black and Latino peers.

During the trial in Vergara vs. California, students testified about teachers who belittled or ignored them. Experts witnesses said such instruction left students behind and unable to catch up.

In a 2014 ruling, a trial court judge threw out teacher job protections, saying the damage to students “shocks the conscience.” But in April, a three-judge appellate panel overruled the trial court and said it is up to the Legislature to set education policy.

The appellate panel issued an opinion stating the job of the court is to merely determine whether statutes are constitutional, not if they are good ideas.

Monday’s decision made by the state Supreme Court pertained to whether justices would hear arguments and weigh in. In a 4-3 decision, the high court decided not to take the case. The Supreme Court majority did not issue an opinion.

Michael Petrilli, the president of the right-leaning Thomas B. Fordham Institute, said the lawsuit was a Hail Mary pass.

“You throw a Hail Mary pass when you’re out of other options. The reformers in California turned to it because the Legislature was locked up by unions.”

Others described the Supreme Court ruling as a victory for separation of powers and a blow to an activist court. Students Matter says it will continue to push for legislative changes in Sacramento.


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13 Comments

  1. ironyman2000 says:

    It’s something less than funny that those who would demonize members of the Democratic party are the same people who would see a demented punk in the White House.

    (-3) 7 Total Votes - 2 up - 5 down
  2. r0y says:

    If only these judges were consistent in claiming that the legislature sets policy…

    Of course that is a cop-out, but what do people expect in a democrat-run environment? The three R’s in education have been replaced: Cronyism, Corruption, Communism.

    Education policy has become a rotten apple, for the most part.

    (23) 33 Total Votes - 28 up - 5 down
  3. kayaknut says:

    Once again no doubt who controls California and one of the reasons we are in such bad shape, the unions.

    (30) 52 Total Votes - 41 up - 11 down
    • Kaiser Bill says:

      Keep telling yourself the unions are why California is in trouble.

      Look at California’s demographics for the complete picture. The schools are a reflection of the people who live here.

      (-5) 25 Total Votes - 10 up - 15 down
      • kayaknut says:

        Since certainly what we are doing right now isn’t working, lets try something, get rid of the public sector unions first, see how that goes for a while, if it doesn’t work,(not likely) we can try something else. But as we are doing right now, trying nothing different gets us nothing but the same result, all bad.

        (2) 6 Total Votes - 4 up - 2 down
        • Kaiser Bill says:

          The problem is not unions. Iowa has teacher’s unions too. Why are Iowa’s schools doing fine.

          HINT: Its not because of Unions, or lack thereof.

          (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
          • kayaknut says:

            Though I don’t know thew particulars in Iowa, part of the reason likely would be the legislators in Iowa have not been bought and paid for by the unions, either they are not for sale or the unions do not buy legislators like here in CA. So yes the problem is not the presence of unions it’s how the unions operate and over the years how they have purchased legislators to get their power and control. Since the legislators control how they get elected our best bet is to get rid of the unions, stop the flow of money from them to the legislators and then just maybe we can get a government for the people by the people, not for the “special” people by the ones with money to give.

            (1) 3 Total Votes - 2 up - 1 down
  4. Rambunctious says:

    The decision constitutes a victory for California teacher unions”

    And a certain loss for the students….how high does the corruption go?

    (24) 48 Total Votes - 36 up - 12 down
    • Kaiser Bill says:

      Sure, the unions are at fault. Not illegal aliens and their anchor baby children who are a drain on California’s education system with the requisite school lunch and English Learner programs.

      (-8) 32 Total Votes - 12 up - 20 down
    • jimmy_me says:

      How high does the corruption go? Take a look at the bloated administrations and administrative salaries.

      (36) 46 Total Votes - 41 up - 5 down
  5. Kaiser Bill says:

    There is an entire book on this subject disproving the myth of bad teachers, Bad Students, Not Bad Schools.

    American students perform as well as any nationality when ethnic background is taking into account.

    “Attorneys representing a group of nine students argued that making it easier to fire bad teachers would improve academic performance and narrow the achievement gap separating white, Asian and wealthier students from their lower-income, black and Latino peers.”

    Firing teachers and putting the best teachers in front of black and Latino students would likely result in nothing. The achievement gap between Whites and Asians on one hand and Blacks and Latinos on the other has everything to do with inherited differences in IQ and ability, and nothing at all to do with teacher quality.

    “Michael Petrilli, the president of the right-leaning Thomas B. Fordham Institute, said the lawsuit was a Hail Mary pass. “You throw a Hail Mary pass when you’re out of other options. The reformers in California turned to it because the Legislature was locked up by unions.” ”

    It is past time for the American Right to abandon such pie in the sky schemes like charter schools and challenging teacher tenure. For the American Right to be honest with itself and succeed, it needs to acknowledge the reality of racial differences, as the racial Achievement Gap in education clearly shows.

    The Right has adopted the mantra of the Left, Equality. People are not equal. Sharing your top quality educational institutions with less skilled people dilutes the strength of your schools. The idea of equality needs to be abandoned.

    (-20) 44 Total Votes - 12 up - 32 down
    • south says:

      Kaiser. Selling the concept of people not being racially equal intellectually has been tried scientifically in the 1994 book “The Bell Curve.” It was excoriated by the left which actually had book burning parties. The book was unfairly criticized as it was a very good commentary on scientific surveys. Its conclusions were that environment was the major factor in IQ and that while race played a strong factor, that was probably due to the fact that Blacks and Hispanics (Asian population was minuscule at that time) had a much larger population below the poverty line.

      An interesting survey in the book was one of only Whites. It showed that the most significant factor of increased IQ was being raised with “Middle Class Values”. In 1994 I would assume that would be what we would deem conservative values today.

      (9) 17 Total Votes - 13 up - 4 down
    • L.A.RamsFan says:

      “Surely people differ in their biologically determined qualities. The world would be too horrible to contemplate if they did not. But discovery of a correlation between some of these qualities is of no scientific interest and of no social significance, except to racists, sexists and the like. Those who argue that there is a correlation between race and IQ and those who deny this claim are contributing to racism and other disorders, because what they are saying is based on the assumption that the answer to the question makes a difference; it does not, except to racists, sexists and the like.” – Noam Chomsky, “Language and Problems of Knowledge”

      ‘Nough Said!

      (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down

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