Nonprofit Sues California Over Teacher Retention Laws



Stateline (4/2, Lu) reports on the trial Vergara v. California. Nonprofit group Students Matter brought the lawsuit on behalf of nine students. The plaintiffs allege that the state’s employment laws “leave so many ineffective teachers on the job that some students many of them low-income and minority fail to receive the education guaranteed by the state constitution.” Teachers unions contend that inadequate education is not due to poor quality teachers, but rather “inadequate resources, large class sizes and lack of parental involvement.” Sandi Jacobs, managing director of state policy for NCTQ, said California is one of few states that doesn’t consider student performance when evaluating teachers. Jesse Rothstein, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, Goldman School of Public Policy, cautioned that the models used to measure teacher performance may be unreliable. The article also considers employment policies and performance incentives in schools across the US.

        Author Peter Schrag questions, in his Los Angeles Times (4/3) column, whether “a strong enough link...can be made between the challenged laws and possible violations of the Constitution’s promise.” He also notes that the plaintiffs in the suit are connected to Parent Revolution and StudentsFirst, both of which have fought teacher’s unions. Schrag also notes that the retention laws were originally enacted to prevent nepotism and bias in hiring teachers and suggests that eliminating the protections could undermine teacher cooperation and morale. Schrag concludes by saying that, if the plaintiffs win, underserved students will likely not benefit because there “are just too many other uncertainties, too many inequities, too many other unmet needs.”