Los Angeles, CA—Teach Plus today issued the following statement on the California Supreme Court Decision in Vergara v. California:
While the California Supreme Court has denied review of the appellate decision, there remains an urgent need to address the key issues raised in the Vergara case that impact California students, particularly students of color and low income students. The California Legislature must act decisively to modify current legislation around teacher tenure, layoff, and dismissal policies.
“It is time for California lawmakers to focus on the inequities that rob our most vulnerable students from access to highly-effective teachers,” said Mike Stryer, Teach Plus California Senior Executive Director. “The fact that substantive legislation wasn’t addressed in the last term makes it even more incumbent on the Legislature to develop sensible legislation that provides more equitable access to excellent teaching for California’s lower-income students and students of color.”
Under California’s current system, teachers are awarded tenure in as little as 18 months. A 2014 Teach Plus poll of over 500 California teachers found that the majority wants teachers to demonstrate effectiveness for a minimum of five years in order to earn tenure.
At the same time, the state’s layoff system contributes to an annual loss of outstanding teachers, as thousands of highly-effective teachers are laid off during budget cuts under a largely seniority-based system. The same 2014 poll also found that 70% of California teachers want performance included in determination of layoffs. In addition, three out of four California principals have had to lay off teachers who they wanted to keep because of current seniority rules, according to another recent Teach Plus poll.
Teach Plus teachers have consistently recommended making teacher performance a factor in job-related decisions while retaining due process in California. The recommendations around layoffs include both performance and seniority considerations so that effective and experienced teachers can remain in the classroom to serve students.