Julie Gutman Dickinson, a pro-union lawyer, here explains that the Vergara case is not what it appears to be.

Its wealthy corporate backers say that teachers are to blame if students get low scores, ignoring decades of social science about the effects of poverty and inadequate resources.

Their attack on teachers is a convenient way to divert attention from the impact of massive budget cuts that devastated the schools of California during the Schwarzenegger era. This is a case that serves the “reformers” well, as it will provide a template for similar legal battles across the nation. And if the plaintiffs should prevail, based on anecdotes, it will be yet another blow against the teaching profession, another incitement for people to avoid or leave the classroom for less embattled fields.

She writes:

Though efforts to remake public education have attracted both Democrats and Republicans, the three-pronged strategy of austerity, privatization and demonization is familiar to anyone who has watched the conservative movement over the past several decades. First you starve government of the resources needed to perform at a high level. Then you claim that the private sector is more efficient and effective, and should be given greater authority. Finally you target public sector workers and the unions that represent them in order to clear the field of opposition, claiming that they are hurting the very people they are charged with serving.

The buildup to Vergara is a perfect example of this sequence. Over the past decade, California saw massive cuts in its education budget, which has only recently started to recover. In 2010-11, the state was 46th in the nation in K-12 spending per student, and 50th in the number of K-12 students per teacher. At the same time, the Golden State has been ground zero for education privatizers, who have spent millions of dollars on school board races, legislation such as the controversial parent trigger law and the relentless effort to advance charter schools.

Now, with Vergara, these forces are seeking to strip teachers of fundamental protections, using the patronizing argument that children must come first (indeed, the name of the group that brought the Vergara suit is the cloying “Students Matter”). That facile assertion is convenient cover for a legal case predicated on weak evidenceand willful blindness toward the actual conditions that impact both children and teachers.