The Vergara trial is an effort by a wealthy tech entrepreneur to win a judgment that any due process rights for teachers harms the civil rights of minority students.
The defense (the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers) called Harvard professor Susan Moore Johnson to testify. Johnson is one of the nation’s leading authorities on the teaching profession. Plaintiffs’ lawyer attempted to rattle her by asking narrow questions about California law and pointing out that she had studied only one district in California, as though the laws there operate in a vacuum. Here is an account from a corporate reform source.
In contrast, the following was sent by a colleague with access to the trial transcript:
“I wanted to let you know that Susan Moore Johnson testified on Tuesday at the Vergara trial. Her testimony was rock star stuff because of her credentials and I thought it’s worth sharing with you for your blog. The plantiff’s tried to say that she wasn’t very qualified to testify because she had only studied a few districts in California directly in the course of her work on the issues that the trail was about. They also admitted that income inequality, poverty and other issues were at play in high poverty schools but they said those things are irrelevant because they only want to focus on taking away teachers rights. You can see some quotes below.
“In Vergara v. California, evidence won the day. Dr. Susan Moore Johnson took the stand on February 18 and 19, using a lifetime of experience and research to back up her testimony that due process allows teachers to do their best work.
“Some highlights from her testimony:
“Due process allows teachers to do their best work: “It’s essential that the people who work with students, primarily the teachers, are able to do their best work, and that means that the conditions of their work have…to ensure that they have the resources they need, the time they need and the conditions they need to teach well.”
“Better working conditions mean greater student improvement: “When we took the data from the surveys and identified the schools that were rated as very favorable working environments, favorable working environments, unfavorables, and we linked that to student achievement using a student growth measure which is used in the state of Massachusetts, we found that student improvement was greater in schools where teachers reported better working conditions.”
“Laws around tenure, seniority and due process help retain good teachers: “Teachers remain in schools where there are strong and effective principals who deal fairly with them and with students and create environments where they can do their best work. Teachers want to be able to teach effectively, and schools that enable them to do that are schools where they will stay. And that’s regardless of the income level of the school.”
“Interestingly, during her testimony, the plaintiff’s lawyer admitted that there were other factors of inequity at play. He said, “”[T]here are other things that can contribute – like racism, etc. That is not relevant.”
“Parents, teachers and students are fed up with the inequities that too often plague our classrooms. Schools are under- and unfairly funded. Classrooms are overcrowded. Segregation is still a reality, decades after Brown v Board of Education. Some kids come to school hungry. Others leave with no home to go to.
“If those who brought this case really cared about making a difference for kids, they’d be working with trachrs and parents to find and implement evidence-based solutions – early childhood education, small classes, project-based learning, wraparound services, professional development, fair funding formulas and more.
“Blaming teachers’ work conditions for the inequities in public education is a misdirected, ideological argument.”