UTLA opposes ACLU settlement

January 21, 2010 - UTLA is strongly opposed to today’s ruling.  Our goal, from the outset, has been to ensure that schools have a stable teaching force and the right conditions for student success.  Unfortunately, today’s ruling does not move schools any closer to that goal. It is, in fact, a perpetuation of the status quo, whereby the highest needs schools will continue to have a majority of less experienced teachers who will have very few experienced mentors among them.

The decision actually undermines the original purpose of the lawsuit – to preserve the constitutional and civil rights of students at our hardest-to-staff schools.  Research shows that rapid teacher turnover and school instability will continue in those schools.  The settlement will also expand constitutional harm to students at other vulnerable sites.   

The ruling will deny thousands of students the benefit of having experienced teachers in their classrooms.  It also creates a destabilized situation where students cannot benefit from a mixed staff of teachers at all experience levels.

Today’s ruling fails both students and teachers.  The judge’s ruling does not address the underlying issues that have created instability; high teacher turnover, and the prevailing inadequate and unsafe environment for learning.  It does nothing to help provide a quality teacher in every classroom.  It just moves around the pieces on a chess board and that’s not good for students or teachers.

UTLA has offered research-based, specific strategies to improve the intractable problems of high turnover and hard-to-staff schools at the heart of the ACLU case.  Those proposals include extra resources to address safety / cleanliness at these campuses, expanded time for teacher collaboration, and recruiting collaborative, successful principals who are genuine instructional leaders, to those schools.
The judge chose to ignore these proposals.

“This settlement will do nothing to address the inequities suffered by our most at-risk students,” said UTLA Elementary Vice President Julie Washington.  “It is a travesty that this settlement, by avoiding real solutions and exacerbating the problem, actually undermines the civil and constitutional rights of our students.”

UTLA will be filing an appeal, as this decision fails schools, students and teachers.