Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Next Set of Ripples from the Vergara Case.  When I first read a headline about the Vergara case, I thought "Who is suing Sofia Vergara?  I mean, Machete Kills was a lousy movie, but she wasn't that bad in it."    Imagine my surprise when I found out that the case was all about changing teacher tenure laws in California.

Seriously, for those of you who are not familiar with the case, a Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge ruled early in June that California's teacher tenure laws are unconstitutional because they disproportionately affected poor and minority students in a negative way and prevented them from receiving a quality education.  Judge Rolf Treu did not mince words in his decision, stating that the tenure laws "impose a real and appreciable impact on students' right to a quality education.  The evidence is compelling.  Indeed, it shocks the conscience."

Reaction to the case has been palpable and has fallen upon predictable lines.  A number of the more strident organizations seeking broad reform of the nation's K-12 system.  Included among the voices embracing the decision, albeit slightly less aggressively, is United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (which has earned him the wrath of national teacher organizations).

A number of other education interests, particularly state and national teachers organizations are decrying the decision, but couching their language in terms that is sympathetic to the students and families who brought the case with the assistance of Students Matter, a California-based education advocacy organization founded by high tech entrepreneur David Welch.

Implementation of a new system has been stayed until all appeals are exhausted and the defendants in the case have every intention of appealing the case.  That delay has not stalled efforts on the part of a number of reformers to seize the momentum and a similar case was filed in New York last week.

One of the interesting aspects that has not been reported is that it was funding equity litigation in California (Serrano v. Priest, 1971) which was first filed in 1968 and subsequently unleashed a wave equity lawsuits nationally, including the lawsuit--Van Dusartz v. Hatfield--that brought about the Minnesota Miracle.  They say as "Maine goes, so goes the nation," but it appears that California is the stepping off point for broad-ranging litigation on education issues.  Given that repeal of "last in/first out" was passed by the Minnesota Legislature in 2012 (and vetoed by Governor Dayton), there may be interest in pursuing litigation in a similar vein as Vergara in Minnesota.

Here are a veritable plethora of links on the Vergara case and the recently-filed case in New York.

Los Angeles Times on Vergara:  http://www.latimes.com/local/education/la-me-teacher-lawsuit-20140611-story.html#page=1

Arne Duncan Statement on Vergara:  http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/statement-us-secretary-education-arne-duncan-regarding-decision-vergara-v-califo

Students Matter Website (with timeline on court case):  http://studentsmatter.org/

AFT President Randi Weingarten statement on Vergara:  http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/statement-us-secretary-education-arne-duncan-regarding-decision-vergara-v-califo

AFT President Randi Weingarten on Arne Duncan's Vergara Statement: in Washington Post:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/06/12/afts-weingarten-smacks-arne-duncan-about-his-praise-for-vergara-decision/

MinnPost article on likelihood of "Vergara in Minnesota":  http://www.minnpost.com/learning-curve/2014/06/could-californias-teacher-tenure-lawsuit-come-minnesota

MinnPost interview with EM President Denise Sprecht:  http://www.minnpost.com/learning-curve/2014/06/minnesota-schools-teacher-tenure-really-problem

New York Times article on Similar lawsuit in New York City:  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/04/nyregion/lawsuit-contests-new-yorks-teacher-tenure-laws.html?_r=0

New York City Parents Union:  Organization supporting the plaintiffs in New York City case::  http://www.nycparentsunion.org/

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