Teacher with students.
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge struck down California's teacher tenure laws Tuesday in Vergara v. California, a closely watched case funded by Silicon Valley entrepreneur David Welch as an attack on teachers and their unions:
Observers on both sides expect the case to generate dozens more like it in cities and states around the country. David Welch, a Silicon Valley technology magnate who financed the organization that is largely responsible for bringing the Vergara case to court — Students Matter — has indicated that his group is open to funding other similar legal fights, particularly in states with powerful teachers’ unions where legislatures have defeated attempts to change teacher tenure laws.
The fact that states with unionized teachers have, on the whole, better educational outcomes than states without binding contracts for teachers makes the political agenda behind Welch's crusade clear. This is not about improving education, it's about attacking teachers. Asked about its likely outcomes after the case had been argued and the judge's leaning became clear:
“It’s certainly not going to improve education,” said Stanford professor Linda Darling-Hammond, who co-directed the National Commission on Teaching & America’s Future, directed President Obama’s 2008/2009 education transition team, and last month testified for the Vergara defense. [...]

There’s a long history in education of teachers being able to be dismissed — and in fact, that’s still the case in many states which don’t have due process protections — for reasons other than competence. And that can include, you know, politics — not working for the right school board member in the elections. It can include getting pregnant or married, and the school board deciding you’re not going to give as much time [to work]. It can include teaching the wrong book, et cetera. And I think if we end up in a place … where we have no protection against firing for reasons other than competence, teaching — which is already a fairly unattractive occupation because of all the teacher-bashing that’s going on — will become an even more unattractive occupation.

In March, Dante Atkins wrote:
California's schools were among the best in the nation all the way through the 1970s, when voters approved Proposition 13, which significantly decreased the amount of revenue collected from property taxes and prevented local governments from passing their own local measures to raise revenues without having at least a two-thirds supermajority vote. Perhaps Students Matter could file a lawsuit against Proposition 13 instead?
The decision will be appealed, but it will also doubtless lead to countless other court cases, targeting not the weakest educational systems in the country, but the strongest teachers unions.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 11:52 AM PDT.

Also republished by California politics and Daily Kos.

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