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Deathblow to CA Teacher Tenure Could Send Ripples Through Public Education Nationally

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In a major blow to teachers unions in California, a judge ruled Tuesday that tenure laws deprive students of their right to an education under the state’s constitution and violate civil rights.  The landmark “Vergara” decision opens the door for similar cases in other states.  

In the majority opinion, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu wrote, “Substantial evidence presented makes it clear to this court that the challenged statutes disproportionately affect poor and/or minority students.  The evidence is compelling. Indeed, it shocks the conscience.”

The case was brought by Students Matter, a pro-corporate education group founded by Silicon Valley player David Welch.  After paying millions to start the group Welch hired a team of high-profile lawyers including Theodore J. Boutrous Jr. Students Matter teamed up with a students’ group to move forward with Vergara v. California.  The group is now likely to file similar lawsuits in New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Oregon, New Mexico, Idaho and Kansas.  

The unions are expected to appeal.  Joshua Pechthalt, President of the California Federation of Teachers, told the New York Times:

“We believe the judge fell victim to the anti-union, anti-teacher rhetoric and one of America’s finest corporate law firms that set out to scapegoat teachers for the real problems that exist in public education.  There are real problems in our schools, but this decision in no way helps us move the ball forward.”


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