Court resumed this week in the Vergara v. California case, a statewide lawsuit of nine California public school children looking to strike down the laws that limit schools from often doing what’s best for kids when it comes to assigning who is teaching them.
The case is being lead by the organization Students Matter, a non-profit founded by Silicon Valley entrepreneur David Welch, which is dedicated to promoting equal access to quality public education.
The Students Matter goal is to see a transformation of the teaching profession in California so that hard-working, effective teachers are rewarded and retained, and others who are not up to the job are not kept in the classroom and on the payroll. Ultimately, Students Matter seeks to create an opportunity for lawmakers, teachers, administrators, and community leaders to rethink the current system so it works rationally for teachers and students alike.
We are honored that the TEACHED Vol. I short films are included as trial exhibits in this potentially game-changing lawsuit. We have seen far too many amazing teachers booted from the classroom due to lack of seniority while others who are not able to manage a successful classroom remain for years, sometimes decades. We have even seen teachers who have abused children (with clear evidence to prove it) paid to leave because the system we currently have in place makes it nearly impossible to fire even them.
Some argue that efforts to rethink tenure and seniority are really about making it easier to fire older teachers (who are farther up on the salary scale) and replace them with younger "less expensive" teachers. Ironically, the polar opposite is the reality: when California's economic woes required laying off teachers over the last few years, teachers were pink-slipped according to seniority only, and because those who have been in the system for fewer years are lesser-paid, i.e. the newer, younger teachers, many more of them had to be laid off to save the required amount. For kids, that is a lose-lose situation.
Not only did California push out thousands of new-ish teachers who had devoted themselves to teaching (unlike many other professions, new teachers must pay for their own training in the form of a teaching credential, so it is a time and financial commitment before you ever get hired), it also convinced college students here who had been thinking about going into teaching to look elsewhere.
There is much to read on the Students Matter website to better understand this case; don't miss their timeline, trial tracker, short clips of the teacher's testimonies, their blog and their Twitter account for the lastest updates. People say that "as California goes, so goes the nation". If this case succeeds here (my guess is it will reach the U.S. Supreme Court), it could spark a national movement to transform the teaching profession.