WASHINGTON—Statement by AFT President Randi Weingarten on the California Court of Appeals unanimous decision in Vergara v. California:
"We are grateful that the appellate court carefully evaluated the evidence and thoughtfully applied the law in its unanimous reversal of the lower court. Let’s be very clear—this is not an either/or situation. It is vitally important that every single child, particularly the kids who brought this case, receive a great public education. That starts with recruiting, retaining and supporting teachers, not blaming educators for societal problems or stripping away their voice.
"The clear lesson from Vergara is that we need to solve the very real teacher shortage problem—not make matters worse by bashing and scapegoating the dedicated educators who teach our children. The way you help disadvantaged kids achieve real equality of opportunity is by nurturing them to reach their full potential, and while that starts with teachers, it includes providing programs and services that engage them and address their well-being.
"When it comes to tenure and due process, these are essential protections for teachers to do their jobs, but they should never be used as a cloak for incompetence or an excuse for managers not to manage. This is what the court ultimately found when it concluded many school districts are able to use the existing law effectively—it is not the law that is the problem, but rather the administration of the law.
"Here’s the simple truth: We cannot fire or sanction our way to high-quality schools. We stand ready to roll up our sleeves and do the hard work necessary for every public school to be a place where parents want to send their children, where educators want to work and where children thrive. That takes working together to find real solutions, not attacking educators through the courts."