The Vergara trial in California is a calculated effort to remove due process protections from teachers. The plaintiffs claim that the superintendent must be able to dismiss teachers at will, without the bother of a hearing. The billionaires sponsoring this attack on teachers’ job protection insist that any protections for teachers in the workplace violates the civil rights of students. They gathered a group of students who were willing to blame their teachers for their low test scores, hired a team of crack lawyers, and sued. Los Angeles Superintendent John Deasy, whose district is being sued, testified for the plaintiffs; he wants the power to fire more teachers without delay.

Win or lose, the billionaires hope to create a template for similar attacks on teachers in other states.

An observer at the trial distributed this account of the proceedings last week.

“On Friday, two teachers pegged as “grossly incompetent” by the Plaintiffs took the stand: Anthony Mize and Dawna Watty.

“Mize was the eighth grade English teacher of the case’s namesake, Elizabeth Vergara. He worked at Maclay Middle School for five years. He started at Maclay as an intern teacher in 2008, was laid off due to reduction in force in 2010 and was then hired back as a long-term substitute for the following three years. He was never hired back on tenure-track, nor did he ever achieve tenure.

“Mize was a good teacher. He took on leadership roles in the school. He was creative and caring in the classroom. He never was disciplined. He never received negative evaluations or observations. His evaluations all had positive comments. He testified that he believed Vergara learned in his class – in which he followed an instructional guide with a lesson-by-lesson layout provided by LAUSD, and used a textbook to supplement.

“Watty taught Brandon DeBose in her fifth grade class at Ruby Bridges Elementary. She has taught more than 900 fifth graders over her 28 year career. Despite having opportunities to transfer to more affluent schools in Alameda Unified School District, Watty chose to stay put because she loves the students and because the school has a strong community feel. She said, “It’s a diverse population. I learn from them. They learn from me. We’re a family. We’re a community. We have students with some severe needs, and we try to meet the needs of all of our students…coming to school is the one thing that they have that is constant in their life…”

“Like Mize, Watty has never received a negative evaluation. She has never received a complaint from a parent about her teaching. She has received much positive feedback, including parents of her students asking to have their younger children assigned to her. She often receives visits from former students.

“Both Mize and Watty testified that neither Vergara nor DeBose nor their parents ever complained or asked for additional help.”

So, neither teacher ever received a negative evaluation.neither was ever disciplined. One never had tenure or tenure rights (why hasn’t John Deasy already fired him, since he was Vergara’s teacher?) should teachers be fired whenever a student doesn’t like them?

Who will want to teach when any teacher can be fired for any reason or no reason at all?

Here are some readings about the trial.