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Eyes Wide Shut: Judge Slams Teachers, Deals Blow to Students

A Superior Court judge in California has struck down teacher tenure, layoff, seniority and other employment-related provisions as unconstitutional, opening the door to retaliation against educators and a move to privatize public education.

A Superior Court judge in California has struck down teacher tenure, layoff, seniority and other employment-related provisions as unconstitutional, opening the door to retaliation against educators and a move to privatize public education. The decision won't go into effect while it is being appealed.

Vergara v. State of California was brought by corporate special interests who want to blame teachers, not inequitable funding or other factors that do affect children's ability to learn.

The lawsuit is being challenged by the American Federation of Teachers and an affiliate of the National Education Association; both are CWA partners in the Democracy Initiative.

NEA pointed out that "this lawsuit was never about helping students, but is yet another attempt by millionaires and corporate special interests to undermine the teaching profession and push their own ideological agenda on public schools and students while working to privatize public education. Research shows experience enhances teacher effectiveness and increases student productivity at all grade levels, and that ultimately contributes to better outcomes for students. Yet, today's ruling hurts students and serves only to undermine the ability of school districts to recruit and retain high quality teachers."

The American Federation of Teachers noted that the court, while focusing on teachers, "did not spend one second discussing funding inequities, school segregation, high poverty or any other out-of-school or in-school factors that are proven to affect student achievement and our children."

"This is a terrible decision because it undermines academic independence and supports a right-wing and corporate political agenda that wants to replace teachers with computer programs and standardized data," said Jelger Kalmijn, president of UPTE-CWA Local 9119.

UPTE represents adjunct faculty and other workers in the University of California system. While adjunct faculty don't have tenure or job security at this time, this ruling, if upheld, would limit bargaining for job security and other hiring and employment provisions, he said.