Sunday, July 06, 2014

Breton repeats deeply flawed Vergara claims

Sacramento Bee opinion columnist Marco Breton published a piece on Sunday,  July 6, noting that Progress ( on race relations) has been slow since the 1994 campaign of California  Proposition 187. The first half of the article where he recounts the history of the Prop. 187 effort is reasonably  well done.  The second half, where he uses Prop. 187 as a means to blame teachers for low school performance does not have evidence to support it.  He takes up the Vergara case, a topic of several posts here.  Breton cites the opinion of Judge Rolf M True. 
 Here is a response to Breton’s assertions by Jeff Bryant.
The campaign against public school teachers and their unions has evolved from casting insults to inflicting real injury. The recent ruling by a California judge in the Vergara v. California case made it a legal precedent to equate teachers’ employment security to an affront to students’ rights to a quality education.

David Cohen of the California teacher leadership network, Accomplished California Teachers, wrote on that organization’s blog, that the Vergara decision was determined before the case was even tried. “Questions about the plaintiffs’ standing and their ability to prove any harm were dismissed,” he explained. No real proof of harm to individual or schools was ever shown. The testimony against teacher job security policies relied mostly on economists. And the ruling was based on mostly “a thought exercise” rather than relevant legal precedent.
In an interview that appeared on Salon, UCLA law professor Jonathan Zasloff noted, “There was a trial here, there was testimony here; but there seemed to be very few facts that the judge explicitly relied on for his decision.”
As education journalist and author Dana Goldstein pointed out for The Atlantic, whether you like or dislike the California policies that Vergara struck down, those policies “aren’t the only, or even the primary, driver of the teacher-quality gap between the state’s middle-class and low-income schools. The larger problem is that too few of the best teachers are willing to work long-term in the country’s most racially isolated and poorest neighborhoods. There are lots of reasons why.”

At The New York Times, education professor Jesse Rothstein concluded that the judge’s ruling “will do little to address the real barriers to effective teaching in impoverished schools, and may even make them worse.”
Nevertheless, an enormous PR campaign hailing the ruling has begun, and Vergara-inspired copycat lawsuits are being rolled out in other states.
Jeff Bryant is Director of the Education Opportunity Network, a partnership effort of the Institute for America's Future and the Opportunity to Learn Campaign

Breton may be a reliable witness to the effects of Prop.187.  He is not a reliable writer on the many crises in our schools.  See the many other posts on the Vergara decision on this blog. The decision is under appeal for its many flaws.  It may be years before it is implemented.

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