Do laws protecting teachers from politically motivated or personal vendetta firings by principals (or prompted by disgruntled parents) hurt students somehow? Edsource has been following the lawsuit against California and its teacher workplace laws closely and has a good summary of what’s at stake in Vergara v. California:
In the lawsuit, nine students from Los Angeles Unified, Oakland Unified and three other districts are challenging longstanding legal protections that their attorneys say lead to hiring and keeping “grossly ineffective teachers.” The suit aims at five laws that the plaintiffs say interfere with districts’ ability to make effective decisions: statutes granting tenure or permanent status to probationary teachers after two years, mandating teacher layoffs based on years on the job and setting up a complex dismissal process that turns over appeals to an independent panel. Because disproportionate numbers of bad teachers end up teaching poor and minority children, the lawsuit says, the laws violate the state Constitution’s guarantee to all children of the opportunity for an equal education and should be thrown out.
LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy is one of the defendants. But as one astute observer of the Vergera v. California lawsuit on teacher due process pointed out, it’s unusual for a superintendent of schools to testify against his own district. Says independent journalist Bill Raden:
For the city’s public school teachers and longtime education policy observers, the spectacle of the L.A. school chief siding with a lawsuit against the very system he is paid to uphold has become a familiar feature of Deasy’s fractious, two-and-half year tenure.
Vergara is merely the latest in a series of major lawsuits that include Reed v. California and Doe v. Deasy, and that have been described as a “new front” in the efforts by education-privatization forces to sidestep the state legislature and pry open L.A. and California public schools to market-based restructuring.
Together, these suits have succeeded in putting LAUSD, its teachers union and the state education code in front of a legal and political blowtorch, with Deasy himself often providing the fuel.
It is a dynamic that many find disturbing.
“We’re substituting the knowledge of professional educators [with] the chance knowledge of professional lawyers,” asserts former school board member David Tokofsky. “It makes no sense to solve complex educational challenges by going [to even] really good lawyers for really difficult educational issues.”
Other corporate media outlets have also noted this, although in slightly more muted ways: pro-charter schools/pro-Deasy LA Schools Report’s piece was titled “Deasy testimony helps both sides in Vergara,” the Los Angeles Times noted that “Deasy provides fodder for both sides in lawsuit.”
Here’s the video of his testimony before the court regarding the process for firing LAUSD teachers.
Full video of the testimony to date in Vergara v. California can be found here. This story is ongoing.