California's laws on teacher tenure, layoffs and dismissals deprive students of their constitutional right to an education, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled Tuesday.
The ruling is a serious defeat for teachers' unions that overturns several California laws that govern the way teachers are hired and fired.
The 16-page decision (attached below) may set off a slew of legal fights in California and other states, where many education reform advocates are eager to change similar laws.
"There is ... no dispute that there are a significant number of grossly ineffective teachers currently active in California classrooms," Judge Rolf M. Treu wrote. "Substantial evidence presented makes it clear to this court that the challenged statutes disproportionately affect poor and/or minority students.
"The evidence is compelling. Indeed, it shocks the conscience."
Enforcement of the much awaited ruling in Vergara v. California will be delayed pending an appeal by the lawsuit's defendants, the state and California's two major teachers unions.