The Vergara Court Decision Shows Us That The War On Teachers Is In Full Swing



On Tuesday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in the Vergara vs. California court case. Essentially, the judge stripped teachers of due process and ruled that tenure is unconstitutional. The lawsuit was brought up, ostensibly, by nine students from poor economic areas of California who felt that poorly performing teachers, who were protected by tenure, hurt their educational progress. In reality, it was the brainchild of so-called education reform organizations like Students Matter and Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst, with the high-powered legal team for the plaintiffs funded by tech billionaire David Welch.

PoliticusUSA’s Rmuse covered the basics of the decision on Wednesday, pointing out the corporate elements at play and showing that this is really nothing more than a union-busting measure by ‘reformers’ who are dead set on profiting off of standardized testing materials and privatized education. The dream of Rhee and her minions is to push charter schools into inner-cities and other poorer areas of the country. Knowing that these schools will likely not be able to keep up with rigid, across-the-board testing standards, they can have local and state administrators further defund these schools even more and have them lose their accreditation. That is when the corporate hawks come into the areas with the charter schools, fully prepared with Common Core textbooks and learning materials via Silicon Valley, and paid for with vouchers from the state via taxpayer money.

The American Federation of Teachers bemoaned this decision, as they know that this is just the tip of the iceberg. AFT President Randi Weingarten released the following statement on Tuesday:

“While this decision is not unexpected, the rhetoric and lack of a thorough, reasoned opinion is disturbing. For example, the judge believes that due process is essential, but his objection boils down to his feeling that two years is not long enough for probation. He argues, as we do, that no one should tolerate bad teachers in the classroom. He is right on that. But in focusing on these teachers who make up a fraction of the workforce, he strips the hundreds of thousands of teachers who are doing a good job of any right to a voice. In focusing on who should be laid off in times of budget crises, he omits the larger problem at play: full and fair funding of our schools so all kids have access to the classes—like music, art and physical education—and opportunities they need.

“It’s surprising that the court, which used its bully pulpit when it came to criticizing teacher protections, 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. We must lift up solutions that speak to these factors—solutions like wraparound services, early childhood education and project-based learning.

“Sadly, there is nothing in this opinion that suggests a thoughtful analysis of how these statutes should work. There is very little that lays groundwork for a path forward. Other states have determined better ways—ways that don’t pit teachers against students, but lift up entire communities. Every child is entitled to a high-quality education regardless of his or her ZIP code. And no parent should have to rely on a lottery system to get his or her child into a good school.


Now that the reform movement picked up a big victory with this court decision, these billionaire-funded ‘reformers’ are prepared to run this same case in other states across the nation. Already, similar lawsuits are in the works in Connecticut, New York, New Mexico and New Jersey, just to name a few. With this verdict already handed down, it seems likely that we’ll see similar verdicts in the other suits. Teachers’ unions will be weakened substantially, and the profession itself will become less appealing for many college graduates, especially if we see the rise of charter schools, with fewer protections for its employees and lower pay.

Reformers like Rhee have stated over and over that they are just trying to fight for students. That they aren’t really against teachers, they just want to hold them accountable. The fact is, though, they really aren’t doing anything to help students. All they’ve done is demonized teachers and created a hostile environment for them. They’ve been able to snow a number of progressives and Democrats, including our Secretary of Education and President, by presenting a ton of data that shows that, surprise, students in poorer areas with higher crime rates tend not to do as well as students in wealthier school districts. Of course, the suggestion isn’t to look into ways to improve those areas economically or provide more resources to school districts already struggling due to the economic situations of their residents. No, instead, the solution is to lay all of the blame squarely on the shoulders of teachers and their unions.

Somewhere along the line, it became perfectly acceptable to call teachers overpaid, lazy and worthless. There is nary a more thankless job than to be a teacher in an inner-city school. You are provided little resources. The majority of your kids are from struggling homes. It is likely the school district has taken away nearly every type of extra-curricular program that could potentially keep students engaged a bit more. And you are forced to teach a very specific curriculum in the hopes that the student boy’s test scores meet an arbitrarily decided outcome. For that, you’ve just been told you should have no job security whatsoever. You should always be looking over your shoulder, stressed out more than you already are.

If these so-called reformers were really concerned about students first and foremost, they would look towards fully funding all school districts. They would advocate more forcefully for programs that help end poverty. Instead of trying to create a more stressful work environment for teachers and tying their performance to test scores that are clearly biased towards economic prosperity, they’d stand up for teachers and look for ways to provide them with more resources and greater job security to create more stable learning environments for children. Rather than push for more school closures in poor, urban areas due to low test scores, creating further racial segregation for minority students and creating overcrowded schools, the reformers would advocate for existing public schools to remain open and perhaps more to be built, all with proper funding.

If we are truly serious about education reform, we need to look at the social and economic issues that affect students in public schools. The fact is, nearly half of all public school students live in or near poverty. By tying school funding largely to local property taxes, all we’re doing is making sure that the poor kids receive sub-standard resources in comparison to those in wealthier areas. Doing something to bridge that inequity would go a long way to help poorer kids in poverty-stricken areas focus more on education. Of course, the reformers aren’t really serious. The endgame is the widespread use of public money for privatized education. This will go hand and hand with certain tech companies providing teaching and testing materials to all schools, centered around Common Core and standardized testing.

As is always the case, follow the money.


28 Replies to “The Vergara Court Decision Shows Us That The War On Teachers Is In Full Swing”

  1. Students first here in Eastern Tn want to fire all teachers immediately. That sure proves to me they are not out to get teachers.

    Large corporations are ready to profit off Charter schools. Take the state money, dump the school. Schools will go in the same direction jobs have went. Students first has nothing to do with education and all about money for the rich
    “The California Charter Schools Association entered an amicus brief on their behalf maintaining that the couple are not guilty of any criminal offense because charter schools are not subject to the laws governing public schools. CCSA says that charter schools are exempt from criminal laws governing public schools because they are operated by a private corporation.

    They say the money received for their nonprofit corporation is not public money, even though it comes from the state and from taxpayers.”

  2. One correction Justin, teachers nationwide only complaint about Common Core is that there are NO textbooks, or teaching materials, yet available. However, the tests are firmly in place. Teachers must spend their own money to provide and write their own “textbooks and curriculum” based on the standardized tests they’ve not yet seen, and will be assessed based on student scores. It’s been set up to produce failure and allow corps devising the standardized tests to put their own system in place. Public schools will not be part of the system.

    We’ve dealt with it for two years in California; still no curriculum. Common Core is excellent – not having curriculum or materials is not. Ending tenure, unions, and due process protections will not provide teaching materials any more than it helps poor parenting or underfunded schools. We are being publicly raped and that judge sodomized us in plain view of the whole nation.

  3. The TeathugliKKKan obstructionist of America have a war on women,children,teachers,vets,black folks,the 99%,the poor,the unemployed & our government sooo, we just need to vote these homegrown terrorists out…Vote BLUE! midterm & kick their arses out!

  4. Only free people are allowed to be educated. Desegregating schools was about the right to an education.

    And a cadre of marketing firms has managed to convince un-educated Americans that it’s all about profit, not people.

    People whose lives are so brutal that it is hard for us to imagine fight for and dream of the education we debase.

    We can be a free nation, or an ignorant nation. The good part is that our children are already telepathic. They share everything and live in the minds of the rest of humanity. We thought ‘Pong’ was amazing……

  5. It´s not about the kids it´s about RATpublikkkans wanting to make a buck off of education . Sticking a middleman in there to make a buck and give lesser quality of education to children . Look what privatization did to our penitentiary´s !

  6. Inner city schools do little to help the its students. While the lifestyle of the parent(s) do little to encourage academic achievement, many of the schools are an appalling failure.;_ylu=X3oDMTEzNnRsdHBxBHNlYwNzcgRwb3MDNgRjb2xvA2JmMQR2dGlkA1ZJUDQ0MF8x/RV=2/RE=1402691353/RO=10/

    The unions do nothing to fix this. The should not be any public unions as town and city officials rarely balance the true cost of union contracts with the value of the service delivered. Bloated union contracts will bankrupt dozens if not hundreds of towns and cities in the for near future. Detroit, coming to a city near you.

  7. In CA the unions fight for equal funding for poor schools–as our funding model is based on property taxes collected in each community. Prop 30 that was passed in 2012 gave more funding to schools that are not as equally funded–and those people who live in nicer communities aren’t happy that they don’t get as much. So the unions DO want equal funding–and have suggested and fought for them—BUT it’s hard to convince people in the suburbs that by equally funding ALL schools, we all win. So please stop pretending that unions do nothing to help kids. We do but we don’t always win with our ideas.

  8. Bloated union contracts? In CA–the standard of living is going up so much that I–as a 20 year veteran–can barely make rent with my paycheck. My salary isn’t even at the median of what it takes to live in the area where I teach. What about the teachers with less experience? They have it even worse. Also, my health insurance premiums go up by 10% every year–and the district hasn’t increased its amount it contributes in 16 years so I take that hit. In CA- I pay 8% of my salary each month to my retirement. We don’t contribute to Social Security so my pension is all I have (and a little bit in what I can save in an IRA). For many years the state of CA deferred their mandatory payments to the pension funds because of budget issues-and then the economic downturn and the stock market crash took out a lot of wealth from the pension funds. Do some research to find out what TEACHERS get as retirement. They are NOT huge. The info is our there.

  9. Bob–that article you referenced is 6 years old. If you are going to make a point, use more relevant data.

  10. Sidnee,
    So what you are saying is that the inner city schools are so much better now. As for teachers pay I only call them as I see them;

    Average Pay in excess of $67,000, starting pay over $41,000. Not bad for 9 months of work, summers off, several weeks of during the school year. I don’t want to hear the whining “we work so hard”. You do not have to meet a payroll, rent for you office, work is guaranteed. If your product is a failure you still get paid and get to keep your job. BTW, my wife is a teacher’s aide and the lead teachers in her pre-school class make in excess of $85,000. n the 90s I built a custom cape for a couple of Buffalo high school teachers on Cape Cod. Nice couple they, the admitted to me they both made in excess of $100,000 and pulled in an extra $10,000- $15,000 coaching sports. Nice racket.

  11. Maybe we don’t have to make payroll, etc, but we work just as hard for what we earn as you think you do. I am an 8th grade social studies teacher. I not only teach 5 hours a day, but prepare for my classes for 1-2 hrs/day. I grade often until 6pm at night, and on top of that I am a counselor to my student who’s mother is dying of cancer, I am expected to be a special Ed teacher who designs a modified curriculum for my special Ed students in my classes and also a Teacher who specializes in teaching gifted kids, so I also design a GATE assignment for my very bright kids who are also in that class. I fill out endless reports on kids, attend meetings with parents, and post grades on a website for parents to see how their kids are doing. As for summers off, although I make about $54,000/year, it’s not enough to go 1 month without pay, so I teach summer school as well, which ends July 26, and I start back at school August 22. I earn every penny I make!

  12. You’re off base. I’m not saying this to annoy you or aggravate you, but you are not as informed on this issue as you seem to think you are and you have a very limited view of the teaching profession as a whole.

  13. Thank you. My son has autism and I know his teacher goes way beyond a paycheck in teaching him. Some people just don’t value education. All they know is it cost too much money. We need to cut this or that. When I was in school we had art, music and gym classes. Now not so much because they cost too much. No wonder this country is getting dumb and dumber

  14. DJ,
    I understand where you are coming from. My wife specializes in pre-school special education. At her own expense has gotten several accreditations. In the business world we are not always reimbursed for furthering our education. She does this while teachers no more qualified than her hang on to maximize the bloated pension. They will have contributed a fraction of what their pension benefits will pay out. There is an unsustainable system that the teachers union wants to maintain. When they run out of other peoples money they will be in for a big surprise.

    It is too bad because I know a score of excellent teachers, but you cannot maintain a system the protects mediocrity with no consequence for failure. I am also seeing a greater and greater backlash to the indoctrination attitude that the public schools encourage, and widespread use of AD/HD.

  15. Bob, you really need to turn off your am radio while on the job site and quit attending Tea Party meetings. What a load of BS you spout! Really? Quoting a passage and providing a link from Tax Payers United of America? You just showed us your cards! Troll!

  16. Brad,
    So funny, because nobody here uses Salon as a reference.Facts are the facts. The progressives fear is that they will run out of other peoples money. If you think the government is here to help you then you missed the part where they have totally sold out to the business interests the unions and anybody who will help pay for their campaigns. If you think the progressive agenda will create a long lasting period of growth and equality in this country then you can o on and hope for change.

  17. Bob I suggest you pick up a history book once in a while when you compare economic outcomes between Progressives and Conservatives. Unless you are part of the 1% then from your POV you may have a point

  18. As Murdoch proclaimed: All those tax dollars are enough to restore my media empire. He sells computers and his Amplify system as K-12 curriculum…Frightening. Follow the Money will reveal much!

  19. Of course improving education does not require more money for teachers. The teachers unions want us to believe by paying a bad teacher more we get better education. Apparently think the public did not learn anything past 1st grade or perhaps they didn’t!
    Getting a good education depends on quite few factors, intact families, good role models, working productive parents, a safe environment are more important than teacher pay or expensive facilities.

    Prior to the advent of teacher unions and high (relatively) teacher pay, schools were staffed primarily by motivated and dedicated women. School administrative staff levels and cost were much lower and school performance was higher.

    It is time that we all look at the product and improve it rather than improve the income level of those involved. If charter or other education options work better than public schools they should receive more of the funding and students. Are the unions afraid of competition AND effective education?

  20. DJ,
    I dare say I have an excellent grasp of history, but whose version do you prefer, like reading on Lincoln you have your Thomas DiLorenzos and you have your Stephan B, Oates (on of my college professors). As for the economy being better under one administration or another, by and large a single administration only has so much real time impact, it is the longer lasting implications that implications that concern me. As it’s so often touted in this board Bush is still blamed for many of today’s ills. The long term impact of today’s policies will be felt for years after they are gone. I could go on at length about monetarist policies, but there is not enough space on this board.

  21. Well it couldn’t be worst than 20 years of reaganomics trickle down bullshit. Hows that long term plan worked for you

  22. The irony of public unions constantly harping about more money is that this creates the tax death spiral. Why is it so expensive to live in states like California, the taxes. As it becomes more expensive to live there the unions want more money so they have to raise the taxes, and so on.

    As for school staffing don’t get me started:–Decades-of-Employment-Growth-in-Americas-Public-Schools–Part-2.aspx


  23. DJ,
    While David Stockman has renounced Reganomics, much of the problem was that the democratic Congress went on an unprcedented spending spree, with Reagan’s approval. Much of it spent winning the cold war. It ended with H.W. Bush’s tax increases. Thus Clinton was the benefactor of the very tax increase that he leveraged to win his election as well as the enormous reduction in military spending as a percentage of the budget compared to previous and later administrations. Clinton’s later years were also the beneficiary of the tech bubble, and we know how that ended. Economics are not always as they seem.

  24. You just don’t get it do you? To hell with that canard democrats went on a spending spree. Did democrats spend to income inequality? Did democrats spend when taxes were cut? Did democrats spend when wages have stagnated for the average worker. No you bought into this voodoo now own it. Conservative economic policy has ruin this country. Conservative foreign policy has ruin this country. Everything you people touch turns to shit.

  25. It is a very sensitive question when it comes to poorly performing districts. I always feel bad for them as usually children just like teacher are not getting quality services at all. And, of course the standards are lowered. But we need to remember that most of kids will eventually go to college and there will same rules for everyone. Students can simply end up applying for help online check this website here. So the law should protect our children.

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