- New poll indicates California voters agree with historic decision in Vergara
- Clips from Plaintiffs’ Riveting Closing Arguments in Vergara v. California
- LAUSD Superintendent Dr. John Deasy Speaks About Vergara v. California and Students’ Rights
- Plaintiffs’ Closing Argument Rebuttal
- Theodore J. Boutrous Presents Plaintiffs Closing Arguments
- Marcellus A. McRae Delivers Plaintiffs’ Closing Arguments
The New York Times Editorial
The Vergara v. California âruling opens a new chapter in the equal education struggle. It also underscores a shameful problem that has cast a long shadow over the lives of children, not just in California but in the rest of the country as well.â
Vergara Plaintiffs Deliver Riveting Closing Arguments
Watch Plaintiffs' riveting closing arguments on the final day of the Vergara v. California trial.
Oakland Alliance of Black Educators Endorses Vergara
"We believe the spirit of dedication and making children the priority, as exhibited by educators like Marcus Foster, are necessary ingredients to effectively steward our most precious resource â children."
Vergara Trial Day 12February 11, 2014 10:40 AM
111 North Hill Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Plaintiffs Provide Riveting Testimony About the Harms They Have Suffered Due to Ineffective Teachers
Plaintiffs testify about their effective and inspiring teachers, as well as their grossly ineffective and harmful teachers.
Beatriz Vergara: I was taught by a teacher who âcall[ed] us stupid,â told us âweâre going to clean houses for a living,â and said that Latino students all âend up [as] âcholos.ââ
Elizabeth Vergara: I had an English teacher who âdidnât teach us anythingâ and we only read âone chapter of [a] book the whole year.â
Raylene Monterroza: I lost âthe best teacher I ever hadâ due to seniority-based layoffs.
Today, three Plaintiffs provided riveting testimony in a Los Angeles Superior Court courtroom in Vergara v. California, the groundbreaking education equality trial. Beatriz Vergara, Elizabeth Vergara, and Raylene Monterroza spoke of their experiences in the classroom dealing with ineffective teachers that were verbally abusive and indifferentâteachers who could not or would not teach them.
The three Plaintiffs testified before a crowded courtroom with their parents in the gallery supporting them. Beatriz and Elizabeth were examined by Plaintiffsâ lead co-counsel, Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr.Â Raylene was examined by Plaintiffsâ counsel, Enrique A. Monagas.
During the trial, which began on January 27, Plaintiffs have presented evidence of the substantial harms suffered by students as a result of Californiaâs permanent employment, dismissal, and seniority-based layoff laws.Â Todayâs testimony provided vivid examples of ineffective teachers in the education system and the harmful and direct impact that these teachers have had on the Plaintiffs.
Students Matter has released a video that features all nine Plaintiffs talking about their experience with bringing this extraordinary case to trial. To view the video, visit: https://vimeo.com/86161776
Testimony by Beatriz Vergara
Beatriz Vergara, a high school sophomore from Pacoima, California, was the first Plaintiff to testify today.Â Beatriz, who attends Cesar Chavez Learning Academy in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), is the named Plaintiff in Vergara v. California.
When asked why she joined the case, Beatriz answered: â[E]ducation matters to meâŚ I see education as a pathway to success in order to be something in the future.â
Beatriz was also asked to describe her experience with an effective teacher.Â In response, Beatriz beamed and stated: Â âI currently have my history teacher, and heâs always supporting, and he encourages students, and he brings history to life.âÂ When asked if she enjoys history, she said: âWell now I do.â
During her testimony, Beatriz testified about her experience with three ineffective teachers: her sixth-grade math teacher; her seventh-grade history teacher; and her seventh-grade science teacher.
When asked by Mr. Boutrous why she believed her sixth-grade math teacher was ineffective, Beatriz testified about the classroom environment, saying:
âIt was always loud in there and he would even sleep during class, he didnât even teach, and he couldnât control his class.Â I couldnât hear anything because of how loud it was.â
Beatriz then spoke about the âlost opportunityâ she experienced in sixth-grade as a result of this teacherâs performance, stating: âNow that I look back, I could have been learning something, and actually gone to honors in seventh grade like my friends âŚ.â
Beatriz continued her testimony by describing how little control her seventh-grade history teacher had over his classroom. She testified that âhe didnât teach well, and he would let the students do whatever they want.Â Some students would be smoking marijuana in the back of the table, he didnât even mind, and you could leave class if you want to… He would, like, just be on his laptop, he didnât teach us.â
When asked how this classroom environment affected her as a student, Beatriz responded:
âWell, it affected me because I didnât know my history till nowâŚ [H]e even made  rude commentsâŚ He would call us stupid and tell us that weâre going [to] clean houses for a living, and um, that Latinos are going to end up being âcholos.ââ
When asked how her teacherâs use of this derogatory term made her feel, Beatriz responded: âIt made me feel bad about myself, since Iâm a Latina, but it also made me work harder, because Iâm going to show him that [not] all Latinas are going turn out as âcholosâ, or clean houses for a living.â
Finally, Beatriz was asked to talk about her seventh-grade science teacher. When asked why she felt that her seventh-grade science teacher was ineffective, Beatriz responded:
âWell again, she didnât teach well and she wouldnât talk to students, and I was scared to ask even ask a question because I didnât want her to insult me, so I fell behind and lost an opportunity to learn there too.â
Beatriz also shared stories about her seventh-grade science teacherâs conduct in the classroom:
â[S]he would always make fun of the students callingâŚ [S]he would call this one girl âstick-figure wh*reâ, umâŚ um to go back to her corner and just, yeah… It made me feel sad because, why should a teacher say that to her, no one should be telling her that.Â A teacher is supposed to motivate you, encourage you, not put you down.â
When asked why she cares about the teachers she gets in the future, Beatriz grinned and said: âI want to be a nurseâŚ I think a teacher is supposed to motivate you and encourage you and keep you going to schoolâŚ.â
Testimony by Elizabeth Vergara
Elizabeth Vergara, a high school junior from Pacoima, took the stand after her sister Beatriz.Â Like her sister, Elizabeth attends Cesar Chavez Learning Academy.
When asked why she joined the case, Elizabeth responded: â[T]his [case] is giving me the opportunity to do something for a change. Education is really important to me, since Iâm almost going to graduate. Â I would want to have better teachers, I want my younger sister and my younger brother to have better teachers too, I donât want them to experience the experience I had.â
Elizabeth was also asked about her experience with an effective teacher.Â She opened up before the courtroom and spoke of her sixth-grade English teacher:Â â[H]e inspired me to read, I didnât like to readâŚheâs the one that told me that reading is really important, youâre going to need it in your life, and it will build your imagination. He was a really good teacherâŚI started to read everyday.âÂ
When asked if she had ever been assigned a teacher that she thought was extremely bad, Elizabeth identified her seventh-grade history teacher (who was also Beatrizâs teacher) and her eighth-grade English teacher.
During her testimony, Elizabeth added to her sisterâs testimony about her seventh-grade history teacher: âI knew he would sleep in class.Â He wouldnât teach you anything, and students sometimes would just have magazines, like using their phones, talking, throwing stuff, throwing foodâŚâ
During her testimony, Elizabeth also testified about her love for reading.Â However, when she was in eighth-grade English, Elizabeth testified: âHe didnât teach us anything like how to structure like an essay, how to analyze a story, you know, how-what an English teacher is supposed to do. All he did was, âYou guys can do whatever you want.â Sometimes he even put movies on, or some people would be using computers, and we only read like one chapter of the book the whole year.â
Elizabeth further testified about why she cares about the types of teachers to which she may be assigned in the future:
âWell because teachers are supposed to be encouraging you, supposed to be like saying, you could do this, you could be something in life, and not saying rude comments, not putting you down and if you have a good teacher, then youâre going to have a good education, and that means you could go somewhere in life, you could go to college, youâre going to know subjects. Students will want to go to, will want to go to schoolâŚâ
Testimony by Raylene Monterroza
Raylene Monterroza, a sixteen-year-old Plaintiff who attended traditional district schools in the Pasadena Unified School District and the Long Beach Unified School District, took the stand after Elizabeth Vergara completed her testimony.
Raylene began her testimony by sharing a story about her seventh-grade English teacher, who she said was âthe best teacher I ever had.âÂ According to Raylene, this teacher always came prepared, had unique learning plans for each student, and started the debate program at her schoolâthe only debate program in the Pasadena Unified School District.Â In a moment of levity, Raylene, who participated in the debate program, testified that she loved being a part of the program, even though they placed last in competitions.
Raylene described her seventh-grade English teacher as very engaged and effective, raising her classâ test scores to the highest scores in the district. Unfortunately, this highly effective teacher was laid off as a result of a reduction in force.
While discussing a grossly ineffective teacher that she had in fifth grade, Raylene recounted that “she would not teach, and she would come unprepared with no learning plan, and she would talk about her personal life, and also belittle other teachers and say that they were bad teachers, and one time she threw an overhead projector at the studentsâŚa piece flew off and hit a student on the head and he started crying.â
Raylene emphasized the impact that this grossly ineffective teacher had on her:Â âIt made me afraid, it made me not want to try or show up to school, and it was basically an opportunity to learn wasted, and it really put me behind my peers.âÂ
Finally, Raylene stated why she became a Plaintiff in the case: “I care about education, and I want to maybe return to public school and be with my friends, and I donât want any other kids to have bad teachers.â
In addition to Plaintiffsâ testimony, the Court heard testimony from Nick Melvoin, a former LAUSD teacher who was laid off multiple times under the âLast-in, First-outâ (LIFO) Statute, and Dr. Dan Goldhaber, a Research Professor of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington, Bothell. Watch Nick Melvoin’s testimony here and Dr. Dan Goldhaber’s testimony here.