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Calif. Teachers' Unions File Appeal Against Vergara Ruling on Teacher Tenure

By guest blogger Madeline Will

In the latest turn of events in the teacher-tenure saga in California, the state's teachers unions officially filed an appeal against the court decision that struck down tenure and dismissal laws.

The appeal was filed by the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers on Wednesday, on behalf of their more than 400,000 members. It comes less than a week after California's attorney general filed an appeal on behalf of Gov. Jerry Brown and the state. State Superintendent Tom Torlakson had also urged the attorney general to appeal.

The Vergara v. California decision was finalized by Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu last week, striking down California laws on teacher tenure and dismissal. The ruling says that those laws unfairly saddle disadvantaged students with weaker teachers and infringe on those students' right under the state constitution to an equitable education. It's a victory for the plaintiffs—nine California students and their families.

The teachers' unions had been planning to appeal since the tentative decision came out in June. They've argued that this decision will make it harder to attract and retain young teachers.

According to a press release, the unions' appeal claimed that the ruling is full of errors and isn't supported by law or fact.

In a statement, CTA President Dean Vogel called the lawsuit "baseless, meritless, and masterminded by self-interested individuals with corporate education reform agendas that are veiled by a proclamation of student interest."

CFT President Joshua Pechthalt said in a statement that the ruling does not take into account the impact of inequality and poverty in schools, as well as underfunding for public education.

"Taking the easy route of blaming teachers for the conditions they work in, this ruling doesn't address any of the real solutions to problems facing public education, solutions such as adequate funding, peer assistance and review programs for struggling teachers, and lower class sizes," he said.

The Vergara lawsuit was sponsored by Students Matter, a national education nonprofit. In a statement following the unions' official appeal, the group vowed to fight the appeal.

"By continuing to defend these harmful and irrational statutes, the CTA and CFT leadership seek to perpetuate inequality in the classroom and deny students their fundamental right to educational opportunity," the statement read.

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