The most important court case you've never heard of

Vergara v. California takes aim at laws that go directly to the heart of a good education: the ability to have, keep, and respect good teachers and dismiss utterly failing ones. Specifically, the suit challenges California laws that create three sets of problems, all of them undermining a school’s ability to act in the best interest of students.

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First, teachers are permitted to earn lifetime employment after a mere 18 months in class, well before their performance can be evaluated to merit such a guarantee. Second, the dismissal process for ineffective teachers is so cumbersome and costly that it rarely works as it should. And third, a “last-in, first-out” law gives priority to seniority over success in times of teacher layoffs.

The absurdity of that law was driven home when a Teacher of the Year in California was forced out during layoffs because others had more time on the job.

Vergara v. California is about equity. No school should have bad teachers—and the poorest schools, with mostly black and Latino student bodies, have a disproportionate share of them.

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