Saturday, August 30, 2014


By The Associated Press, from the LA Daily News |

8/29/14, 10:31 PM PDT | Updated: 8/29/2014 8:25 am :: LOS ANGELES  ::  California Gov. Jerry Brown late Friday appealed a court ruling that struck down tenure and other job protections for the state’s teachers.

Attorney General Kamala Harris filed the appeal in a Los Angeles County court on behalf of the governor and the state.

The move came a day after Superior Court Judge Rulf Treu finalized his June ruling that found five laws violated the California Constitution by depriving some of the state’s 6.2 million students of a quality education. He’d earlier said the system “shocks the conscience.”

The governor’s one-page notice of appeal said that under the state’s constitution “the important issues presented in this case — if they are to have statewide legal impact — must be reviewed by a higher court, either the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court of California.”

It says that for reasons that are “unclear and unexplained” actual school districts were dismissed as parties to the lawsuit before trial, meaning the court’s decision “applies only to parties that have no role or duties under the challenged lawsuits.”

It also criticizes Treu for failing to provide details on the legal basis for his reasoning, and simply making his tentative decision final instead of elaborating and expanding on in the ruling that was affirmed Thursday.

California’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson had asked the attorney general for the appeal earlier Friday because he lacked the legal authority.

Torlakson was among those named in a lawsuit brought by nine students that argued California’s hiring-and-firing rules for teachers saddled schools — especially those in poor and minority neighborhoods — with bad teachers who effectively couldn’t be fired.

The judge has declined to tell the state Legislature exactly how to change the system, but he has expressed confidence it will do so in a way that passes constitutional muster.

However, Torlakson said in a statement Friday that the ruling isn’t supported by facts or law and is too vague to guide state lawmakers in making alterations.

The trial represented the latest battle in a nationwide movement to toughen the standards for granting teachers permanent employment protection and seniority-based preferences during layoffs. Dozens of states have moved in recent years to get rid of such protections or raise the standards for obtaining them.

The powerful teachers’ union in California and unions elsewhere have fought to keep the rules, arguing that they protect academic freedom and help attract teachers to a tough and badly paid profession.

Torkalson, who has union backing as he seeks reelection this fall, said teachers were being blamed unfairly for failings in the educational system.

“We do not fault doctors when the emergency room is full. We do not criticize the firefighter whose supply of water runs dry. Yet while we crowd our classrooms and fail to properly equip them with adequate resources, those who filed and support this case shamelessly seek to blame teachers who step forward every day to make a difference for our children,” Torkalson’s statement said.

A challenger to Torlakson’s re-election, Marshall Tuck, said Torlakson’s appeal effort shows that he is standing “with his Sacramento funders and not with students.”

by email to 4LAKids


Tom Torlakson for State Superintendent of Public Instruction 2014

Aug 29, 2014


Earlier today I issued a statement regarding my decision to seek appellate review of the Vergara case, which has drawn considerable public attention in recent weeks.

Here is the complete text of my public statement:

"The people who dedicate their lives to the teaching profession deserve our admiration and support. Instead, this ruling lays the failings of our education system at their feet.

"We do not fault doctors when the emergency room is full. We do not criticize the firefighter whose supply of water runs dry. Yet while we crowd our classrooms and fail to properly equip them with adequate resources, those who filed and support this case shamelessly seek to blame teachers who step forward every day to make a difference for our children.

"No teacher is perfect. A very few are not worthy of the job. School districts have always had the power to dismiss those who do not measure up, and this year I helped pass a new law that streamlined the dismissal process, while protecting the rights of both teachers and students. It is disappointing that the Court refused to even consider this important reform.

"In a cruel irony, this final ruling comes as many California teachers spend countless unpaid hours preparing to start the new school year in hopes of better serving the very students this case purportedly seeks to help.

"While the statutes in this case are not under my jurisdiction as state Superintendent, it is clear that the Court’s ruling is not supported by the facts or the law. Its vagueness provides no guidance about how the Legislature could successfully alter the challenged statutes to satisfy the Court. Accordingly, I will ask the Attorney General to seek appellate review."

Best regards,

Tom Torlakson Signature


August 28, 2014
Contact: Cynara Lilly (m) 206.915.7821 -or-

FINAL VERGARA RULING -- Tuck to Torlakson: Drop Plans to Appeal

"Kids should not have to sue to get a quality education"

Los Angeles -- In response to today's final ruling in Vergara v. California, the Marshall Tuck campaign released the following statement:

"The Vergara ruling is a big win for the kids of California. Now that the Vergara ruling is official, my opponent State Superintendent Tom Torlakson and other Sacramento insiders should do the right thing for California kids and drop any plans to appeal the ruling. I applaud the nine students who took a courageous stand for all of California’s kids. But the truth is, no student should ever have to go to court to get a quality education – and no elected official should ever put bureaucratic laws ahead of students’ interest."

The Vergara ruling found that laws governing teacher tenure, dismissal and layoffs violate the California Constitution and handcuff schools from giving every student an equal opportunity to learn from effective teachers. Judge Rolf Treu remarked that the evidence presented in the case “shocks the conscience.”

Earlier this summer Marshall outlined a plan to address the Vergara ruling based on his experience working to turn around failing schools. Read the whole plan here.

In addition to releasing his plan, Tuck also invited parents, teachers, students and community members to join him in calling on Tom Torlakson and the State of California to drop any plans to defend the broken system by appealing the Vergara ruling.

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