California Judge Rules 5 Laws Governing Hiring and Firing Practices of Teachers Unconstitutional

On June 10th, California Judge Rolf M. Treu ruled in favor of the plaintiff’s in the case Vergara v. State of California reports POLITICO. The plaintiffs in the case were nine students who felt that they were put at a disadvantage and that their education suffered as a result of having poor teachers. The students claimed that the teachers did not challenge them or inspire them and that that they failed to maintain basic discipline.

As a result of their testimony Judge Treu determined that five California laws that govern the hiring and firing practices of teachers were unconstitutional, a decision which many fear will cause political debate and deliberation in other states.

In a 16 page opinion, Treu candidly expresses his view that the laws allowed incompetent teachers to remain in the classrooms, resulting in many students being months or even years behind students who had better quality teachers.

Treu also likens the situation to Brown vs. Board of Education as he claims “teacher protections embedded in California law disproportionately hurt black and Hispanic students, who are far more likely than their peers to be assigned truly bad teachers.”

This ruling creates outrage among teachers unions as it makes it harder for them to attract and keep quality teachers and downplays how important experience is to the teaching process.  Many union officials feel that this ruling is not to support students, but rather to attack the public education system and for corporate special interests to promote the privatization of the public education system.

The California Federation of Teachers and the California Teachers Association have plans to appeal to the state Supreme Court. Treu says he will take the comments from both sides under consideration before he makes his final ruling at the end of June.