CTA State Council Condemns Vergara Lawsuit
LOS ANGELES – In a unanimous vote today, delegates of the CTA State Council of Education denounced the Vergara v. State of California lawsuit attacking educators’ professional and due process rights that’s being bankrolled by millionaires and corporate special interests.
Strongly reiterating CTA concerns with the “deceptive” lawsuit filed by Students Matter, a group headed by Silicon Valley millionaire David Welch, Council delegates adopted a resolution saying California’s teachers “stand for students, educators and local public schools and denounce the meritless claims, fallacies and fabrications of the Vergara lawsuit and its deceptive goals.”
“The Vergara lawsuit puts the professional rights of teachers on trial, which does nothing to help students,” said CTA President Dean E. Vogel. “CTA will continue to fight to ensure we have qualified and experienced teachers in our classrooms whose rights are respected, and not subject to arbitrary and capricious behavior or favoritism.”
The misguided lawsuit seeks to strike down state laws about public school educators’ due process rights for dismissals, dismantle the state layoff statutes and tie teacher evaluations to standardized student test scores. The CTA resolution says the lawsuit blames teachers for shortcomings in education while ignoring the impacts of “external factors like poverty, underfunding, lack of access to adequate healthcare and early childhood education” and how they have a “greater impact than any one teacher can overcome.”
The lawsuit trial begins Monday, Jan. 27, in Los Angeles Superior Court. CTA and the California Federation of Teachers have intervened in the case to help the state.
The Council’s nearly 800 democratically elected teacher delegates from around the state comprise the union’s top governing body and represent the 325,000 members of the California Teachers Association. Revealing CTA background on the lawsuit is online here. This is the full text of the Vergara lawsuit resolution adopted today:
CTA Resolution Supporting Educators and Students Against the Corporate Special Interest Lawsuit: Vergara v. State of California
PREFACE: With their ideas rejected by voters at the ballot box and by lawmakers, millionaires and corporate special interests have now filed a lawsuit to push their misguided agenda on our local public schools and attack educators and their professional rights. The corporate education reformers are attempting to use the courts to strike down due process, dismantle the state layoff statutes and tie teacher evaluations to standardized student test scores. But circumventing the legislative process to strip educators of their professional rights does not improve learning and hurts students. This lawsuit wastes taxpayer money, highlights the wrong problems, proposes the wrong solutions, and is deliberately designed to keep parents and educators out of education policy decisions.
WHEREAS, the Vergara v. State of California lawsuit, like other corporate education “reform” efforts, is backed by another Silicon Valley multi-millionaire, David Welch, who started the group Students Matter that’s behind the litigation; and
WHEREAS, the lawsuit is based on the false premise that state statutes that help to attract and retain quality teachers by providing professional rights are failing public education, when research confirms that most public schools are a success and student learning is improving in California; and
WHEREAS, this meritless lawsuit ignores the biggest challenges facing public education, including a severe lack of funding, inadequate resources, overcrowded classrooms, economic inequality, and student poverty; for the 2011-12 school year, nearly 56 percent of California’s 6.2 million K-12 students were considered low-income and qualified for free or reduced-price school meals; and while the passage of Proposition 30 is slowly repaying years of budget cuts, California still spends $3,500 per student less than the national average; and
WHEREAS, this lawsuit and trial are a waste of valuable taxpayer money that would much better be spent actually investing in our students, schools and educators; and
WHEREAS, contrary to what the lawsuit claims, not one teacher in California has a job for life, and teachers can be dismissed during the first two years of employment for no reason at all; students need a stable, experienced and high-quality teaching workforce; current laws ensure experienced teachers have a right to a hearing and are not dismissed for arbitrary or unfair reasons; and
WHEREAS, eliminating the professional rights of educators will actually make it harder to attract and retain high-quality teachers into our classrooms at a time when nearly 50 percent of teachers in urban and high-poverty schools leave the profession within the first five years; and
WHEREAS, this lawsuit ignores all research that shows teaching experience does matter and contributes to student learning; studies show that teacher experience enhances teacher effectiveness and increases student productivity in all grades in reading and math; and
WHEREAS, in the court of public opinion the verdict on testing is already in – parents know their child is more than a standardized test score and therefore that a single test score can’t determine teacher effectiveness; and
WHEREAS, while the role of the teacher is always an important in-school factor in student learning, external factors like poverty, underfunding, lack of access to adequate healthcare and early childhood education have a greater impact than any one teacher can overcome; and
WHEREAS, the long record of CTA support for students of greatest need includes the CTA-sponsored Quality Education Investment Act, the landmark school turnaround program which commits nearly $3 billion over eight years for proven reforms such as smaller class sizes, better teacher training, more collaboration time and parental involvement and is improving student learning in hundreds of California’s high-poverty schools; and
WHEREAS, this lawsuit tries to legislate from the bench and exclude meaningful input from parents and educators in education decisions, when the only way to have real educational change is to have the voices of all stakeholders, including parents, educators, administrators, students and community members, in the discussion; and
WHEREAS, the plaintiffs’ lawyers have tried to frame this lawsuit as a student-driven fight for educational equality, but the backers of this suit who are spending thousands of dollars on high-paid media consultants are a “who’s who” of the billionaire boys club whose real agenda is to privatize public schools and attack educators and their unions – the very people in California who have led the fight for free public schools, educational equality, equity and social justice for 150 years; and
WHEREAS, the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers have intervened in the lawsuit filed against the state to defend our students and the education profession;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the California Teachers Association State Council of Education delegates, on behalf of all 325,000 members of CTA, stand for students, educators and local public schools and denounce the meritless claims, fallacies and fabrications of the Vergara lawsuit and its deceptive goals;
THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that CTA will continue to fight this meritless lawsuit, will continue to support having highly qualified and effective teachers in every classroom whose rights are respected and protected as set forth by law and the Constitution of the State of California, and will continue to work with parents, educators, administrators and community members to provide quality public schools to all students of California.