Vergara v. California: Forward, not back.
The California Supreme Court has unfortunately announced that they will not review the groundbreaking education equality lawsuit, Vergara v. California, denying the nine brave student plaintiffs their day in front of the state’s highest court. Notably, however, three of the seven Justices — Justices Liu and Cuéllar (appointed by Governor Jerry Brown) and Justice Chin (appointed by Governor Pete Wilson) — believed that the petition should be granted. In his dissenting opinion, Justice Liu said:
Because the questions presented have obvious statewide importance, and because they involve a significant legal issue on which the Court of Appeal likely erred, this court should grant review.
In his dissenting opinion, Justice Cuéllar said:
There is a difference between the usual blemishes in governance left as institutions implement statutes or engage in routine trade-offs and those staggering failures that threaten to turn the right to education for California schoolchildren into an empty promise. Knowing the difference is as fundamental as education itself. Which is why I would grant review.
This decision falls short of the binding mandate for change that California voters, students, parents and educators had hoped for, but the issues at the heart of Vergara are not going away — and neither are we.
We have all seen the evidence of the harm caused by the challenged laws — evidence that two courts have called ‘extremely troubling’ and said ‘shocks the conscience.’ No longer can we hide behind a veil of ignorance in choosing to do nothing to protect California students. We know the problem, and we know how to fix it.
While today may be the end of our legal battle in Vergara, it’s clear that our fight has changed the conversation around teacher quality in California — and that conversation will continue. We’re moving forward, not back.
The Supreme Court’s decision places the responsibility for improving the state’s teacher retention, evaluation and dismissal laws squarely with the California Legislature. And that’s where we intend to take this fight.
The urgency remains to give California students and teachers the policy changes they demand and deserve. We aren’t backing down until every child has access to a great teacher and a quality education.