A judge on Friday approved a sweeping overhaul of how teachers are laid off in what education reformers hail as a landmark decision to keep more effective instructors in the classroom, but unions denounce as a step toward dismantling tenure policies, the Associated Press reports. The decision was the outcome of a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California in February, charging that inner-city students’ right to a quality education was being violated by a last-hired, first-fired layoff policy.

“This is a historic decision for the state of California,” said John Deasy, deputy superintendent of Los Angeles Unified School District. “The court stood and lifted up the voice of youth. That voice was loud and clear.”

The ruling by Superior Court Judge William Highberger approved a settlement between the ACLU, the state and LAUSD in which the district agreed to shield 45 of its lowest performing schools from layoffs and to ensure that the redistribution of those layoffs will not be sent to a school that will experience greater than the district average of layoffs for that year…

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staff and wire services reports