The nine public school students who sued the California government over laws that cushioned ineffective teachers have won their case. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu declared the evidence that these laws enabled "grossly ineffective teachers" so compelling that "it shocks the conscience."
Campbell Brown, writing for the New York Daily News, calls the decision "an indictment of laws in any state that protect inferior teachers at the expense of students" and lists the dozens of similar laws in other states that may now be in jeopardy:
In 37 states, including New York, states still make decisions on whether to grant tenure — protected employment — to teachers in three years or less.
In 33 states — again, including New York — states do not consider classroom performance in deciding which teachers go in a systemwide layoff. Instead of merit, they favor length of service.
And in 38 states, the cumbersome teacher dismissal process allows multiple appeals. This is not due process; it is an undue burden on those trying to protect teacher quality. And it can be dangerous. In New York, even teachers accused of sexual misconduct have stayed on the job.
The California case, Vergara v. California, has drawn national attention to the catastrophic effects of laws that shield bad teachers from dismissal and prioritize seniority over classroom results. Brown writes:
It would be no surprise to see parents in New York and elsewhere take the cue of the Vergara plaintiffs and take matters into their own hands. It is empowering to know the courts can help.
It should never have come to this: Students taking on the powerful governments and teachers unions, all to challenge laws that inexplicably and directly lead to a worse public education.