Unions win a victory in a closely-watched California case

In a major victory for unions, a California appeals court reversed a lower court ruling that threw out tenure and other job protections for the state’s public school teachers.

The case was being closely watched across the country because advocates argued allowing administrators to more easily fire bad teachers would improve schools and student performance. Right now, there are a series of job protections that are evoked before school districts can remove a teacher.

“I think it’s a win certainly for educators, but also a win for students,” California Teachers Association President Eric C. Heins said of Thursday’s ruling. “The trial never made the connection between the harms they were alleging and the statutes they were challenging. I think the laws have been working.”

A judge’s 2014 ruling in the case, Vergara vs. California, held that several key job protections for teachers are so harmful to students that they deprive children of their constitutional right to an education.

Lawyers representing the state of California and its powerful teachers unions argued earlier this year before the three-judge panel that the decision should be reversed and that the laws in question do not violate students’ rights.

At issue was the ruling by L.A. County Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu, which nullified the state’s system of awarding strong protections for teachers–including tenure, which takes effect at the end of their second year on the job.

Next page: Details of the decision

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