Vergara v. California

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An Opinionated Girl in 1954, White Sands Proving Ground, New Mexico

by Ms. Cheri Sabraw

Today, the Second District Court of Appeal  sided with all incompetent teachers, those backed  by one of the most powerful organizations in California, the California Teachers’ Association, a union that believes the rights of its teachers to be  more important than the quality of education they deliver.

“Should it be easier to fire bad teachers?” This is the essential question asked in  the original lawsuit.

And the answer to that question is the crux of the lower court’s ruling which said,

“Yes. You bad teachers can no longer hide under the cloak of tenure.”

But no one, especially those of us who live in California, should be surprised that the lower court ruling (Vergara v. California) was reversed  in Los Angeles today. Here in the State of the Big Tent—where anything and everything are OK—we pay homage to the lowest common denominator and subscribe to the mantra that ” Being excellent is really just an attempt at superiority.”

In my long service to public education—from 1972-1998—I struggled to cope with the many losers who picked up their paychecks (often much larger than mine) for doing nothing. And I mean, nothing.

During instructional time, said losers showed movies that had nothing to do with their subject matter, shared their family problems with their students, told dumb jokes, and did anything other than teach their classes. These people, typically, spoke the loudest during faculty meetings and dominated the strike lines during the three teachers’ strikes that I witnessed.

They complained in the lunchroom about having to call concerned parents. They were small-minded people who thrived on an “us-against-them” philosophy. In sum, they were the most unimpressive group of people in whose company I have ever spent time. These people today, I’m sure, are Bernie Sanders’ supporters, hoping for more free stuff.

Incompetence?

Most of the teachers in my English departments did not know a lick of grammar. (Go to the California Teachers’ Association website and see if an apostrophe sits after the word Teachers.) At an English department meeting when I suggested that all 9th grade teachers teach grammar, one of my peers told me that “… the foreign language teachers handle that.”

I know English teachers who never correct an essay all year. And get away with it.

I know administrators who know about these teachers but who do nothing.

Let’s hope that the California Supreme Court reverses the Court of Appeal in this matter.

Let’s hope that Judge Rolf Treu’s lower court ruling is upheld as it is the Treuth.

 

 

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About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
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32 Responses to Vergara v. California

  1. Muni says:

    Well said Cheri! By the way, what were you doing in White Sands?

    • Cheri says:

      Thanks, Muni. As for my connections to WSPG (now Missile Range), my father Hugh was stationed there from 1952-55 as the base dentist. I have written and posted pictures on this blog about my memories as a little girl of southern New Mexico. Several years ago, I rented a car from El Paso and drove out ot the base to see if I could find this very house. Armed with only this photo, the cute guards at the gate actually let me in to see. Alas, it had been torn down but the beauty of the Organ Mountains from behind and the strong strong memories of a very happy time for me replaced my disappointment. I know you did your residency in New Mexico.

  2. potsoc says:

    For the last 20 years of my professional life, I managed unionized personnel. A few did match your description but most were dedicated people working hard to help their fellow citizens even, at times, ignoring their union’s rules.
    As for Sanders, it may come as a shock to you, but, were I a U.S. citizen, I would vote for him over Clinton and Trump (especially) and Cruze, more civilized than The Donald but of the same ilk..

    • Cheri says:

      Hi Paul, thank you for this important comment. This was not an indictment of unions. I support the concept of the union. God knows, the California migrant workers, so aptly described in Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, would not be working under the conditions they are today without a union. Other industries need unions to keep all in check.

      I am referring specificially to the teachers’ union, especially the all-powerful CTA which continues to stymie any and all change in education here in California.

      Of course, there are pockets of excellence in education in every school and those who deliver an average, above-average, or excellent education are present in any school setting. They are people like you. However, in my own experience, which is all I can speak about, a number of teachers with whom I worked, were average “folks” as Obama would say who didn’t do too much harm (other than not hold their students accountable for anything) and were rarely exceptional.
      Am I surprised you would vote for Bernie? No.

      We have no choices coming in this sad election cycle. We have many people who have no idea of a budget and who believe that someone will pay for all of their “stuff.” This is happening now. Obama has made an art of the “class divide” and Sanders is capitalizing on it.
      I imagine that living in Canada may have something to do with your viewpoint.

  3. potsoc says:

    Without going as far as Bernie, we do live in a mixed system society, part capitalist, part socialist. We experienced with doctrinal conservatives under our past Harper government and promptly dumped it last year. The guy was not even saying “Canadian government” but “Harper government” sure as he was that he impersonated the country.
    The New Brunswick liberal government will, as of September 2016, provide tuition free college and university education to students from families earning less than 60000$cnd.a yea.and raised taxes to do so…without generating an outcry from its citizens.
    I guess we are a far cry from Uncle Sam, who, by the way, must be weeping when he takes a look at his people.

    • Cheri says:

      What you fail to acknowledge, Paul, are the many entitlements that we wage-earners do support in the form of massive welfare payments and high tax rates (in California alone the highest state tax is 13% and that does not include between 27%-30% federal tax and does not include our 8% sales tax). Uncle Sam is extremely proud of a generous people who have a system which allows for so much largess to those who are unable (or unwilling) to earn a living. Uncle Sam is extremely proud of a people who voted in their first African American president, who live in a country with more opportunity and freedom than anywhere else in the world, and who allow for freedoms of religion, speech, and so much more. I am proud to be an American. If things are so shoddy here, why do so many people want in? It may be argued that they want in because we give away so much.
      Those of us who are still working, like my husband, devote a huge percentage of income (willingly or not) to support numerous state and federal programs that give, give, give. No guilt on this end.
      The media love to engender a hate American theme. With those who do not do their homework (or, like the poor students of so many lackluster teachers who have not encouraged such students to think for themselves), it is easy to buy into all of the dumb rhetoric coming from the far right and the far left.
      It’s always been this way. I find comfort in that thought.
      By the way, we noticed a lot of poverty in New Brunswick, especially in the center of the province where so many members of the First Nations live. We did not see this in Prince Edward Island where the employment rate is very high.

      • potsoc says:

        New Brunswick is a poor province since the fisheries crash some 20 years ago. As for P.E.I. it is currently struggling with a declining fisheries industry and has a rather high unemployment rate, especially in the northern part around Tignish.
        Things are not shoddy in the U.S., as you seem to think I think. There is, though, a much more individualist mentality that we, as Canadians, do not share. We do have a heavy tax burden but we get services in return, not entitlements, universal services so we all share in the basket…and feed it.
        By the way, many U.S. citizens move to Canada and the way things are evolving down your way, we expect even more. Maybe not as many as in the Vietnam era but still some.

  4. Brighid says:

    Excellent post, Cheri.
    I worked for many years in the school system (as a site secretary, district acct/payroll clerk, & county acct clerk) and I’m in total agreement with your assessment. CSEA is not far from being as corrupt as CTA. Their are many in both groups that are doing nothing, nothing to further the education of the students.
    I got reprimanded by one superintendent for denying unemployment status to aides that said they couldn’t work the beginning of the school year because they were in Mexico. They were not, they were working in the harvest, at the same time drawing unemployment from the school district. I could go on and on.
    How anyone could support Bernie is beyond me.

    • Cheri says:

      Thank you, Brighid. I appreciate your lending specificity to this discussion. Your examples ring oh so true. I do not need to imagine what you encountered throughout the years serving in the capacity you did. Many of my friends who worked at various school sites who were classified employees told me enough. Thank you for your “volunteering” in public education. Someone asked me if I would volunteer after my retirement. “Volunteer? you ask?”
      I volunteered for 26 years in a workforce that was, many times, toxic.
      “No, I served my time. Thanks.”

  5. cpartner@comcast.net says:

    Well done !

    Cindy Block Usedom Cindy and Partners

    Cell: 510-501-4140 Office: 925-426-3760 http://www.cindyandpartners.com

    • Cheri says:

      Thank you Cindy. I appreciate your comment AND your patience, as you have listened to me for over 30 years on this topic at all Thanksgiving dinners…what a woman you are.

  6. Susie says:

    Amen!!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  7. Richard says:

    It is deeply saddening to see how a few revolutionaries and malcontents can corrode standards of dedication and excellence. You see parallels over here in the dispute between the NHS and junior doctors, who are mere pawns in the political ambitions of the BMA.

    I regret to have to observe that the vacuum left by absence of the profit motive, owing to the availability of taxpayers’ money, and greed are the fundamental causes.

  8. shoreacres says:

    Cheri, you are exactly on point. I just can’t get started, because (1) I wouldn’t know where to stop, and (2) certain personal experiences need not be shared on a public forum. What I will say is that the rot infecting our so-called universities — the demand for “safe spaces,” the refusal to allow for a free exchange of ideas and opinions, the hypersensitivity to criticism, and so on, is to a large degree a result of teachers more interested in inculcating their own values than in educating — partly because they have little grasp of the subject matter at hand.

    As I heard one area educator say recently, with a perfectly straight face, “We’d be much better off to pay these teachers off, send them packing, and start fresh.” But of course, that’s the problem, We can’t get rid of the bad ones, either.

    • Cheri says:

      You have aptly and succinctly added credence to my rage. Free exchange of ideas? What a concept! I was the journalism teacher for 15 years…you can only imagine the posse of idiots that regularly challenged my students’ freedom of speech. When you are dealing with the CTA, all freedoms are surrendered at the door of mediocrity. The school district paid me an additional $500.00 per semester to navigate high-powered and brilliant students through the obstacle course of free speech. What astounded me the most were the comments that their government teachers made about our student newspaper.

  9. Christopher says:

    Despite your posting being the very model of disinterested and judicious objectivity, you didn’t point out that the ruling of the more senior Second District Court of Appeal was made by three judges, whereas the ruling of the more junior trial (lower) court had been made by just one judge – Judge Treu, who, in the light of the fallacy of his reasoning being so cruelly exposed by the Appeal Court, should, if he is a man of honour, now apply to have his surname of “Treu” judicially changed to “Falsch”.

    On the issue of tenure generally, I need hardly remind you that it’s a bulwark to protect independent-minded teachers from being capriciously persecuted by administrators with ideological agendas – usually of the right-of-centre variety.

    Happily, thanks to the wise ruling of Judge Boren and his men, all independent-minded teachers in the Great State of California can feel free from persecution – at least for now.

  10. Cheri says:

    Dear Christopher,
    I neglected to include the number of judges who makes up each appellate panel. Yes! Three!
    Usually high-quality independent minded teachers are the ones who don’t need tenure because they do their jobs. It’s the low-quality incompetent teachers who desperately need protection. The administrators are also incompetent. Much incompetence all around because of teacher and administrator protections like tenure, laughable evaluations, and union rules designed to stymie.
    The losers? California’s public school children, like the nine students who brought the lawsuit.

  11. Richard says:

    When Lord Denning sat in the Court of Appeal for England and Wales he frequently delivered a dissenting judgment only to find that on an appeal to the House of Lords his findings were vindicated by five judges. It also happened in his days as a single High Court judge when he was reversed on appeal to the Court of Appeal, only to be upheld in the House of Lords. He himself became eligible to sit in the House of Lords but chose to sit in the Court of Appeal. That way he was closer to real people, who queued up knowing they would find justice there. When he retired, the waiting list dissipated. It was not only those who litigated who benefited: his decisions enabled solicitors to give reassuring advice to clients every working day.

    He was not popular with trade unions and the left wing because he was seen to be interfering with trade union rights. They argued, of course, that he was interfering with workers’ rights. He knew that he was closer to the vast majority of people, who just wanted to get on and do their jobs, in which they took pride, and who simply wanted to be left alone to enjoy life and feed, clothe and shelter their families. Workers were fed up with the frequent calls to strike from an affluent trade union leadership that had but one objective: the overthrow of the democratically elected government and the installation of a socialist dictatorship.

    He was a radical, courageous, reforming judge, who did much to promote women’s rights and the expectations of ordinary people. His ideas influenced legislation both directly and indirectly. The left sullied his reputation with glee by focusing on unfortunate errors he made as he approached the end of his career at age 83. That is one of the techniques of the left: when the argument is lost, attack the person or his name. He knew, in the best traditions of the Common Law, that justice can be dispensed by developing the law in individual cases. That way, of course, you expose yourself to the accusation of ignoring democratic decisions, and this argument has acquired increasing sway at the expense of the Common Law, particularly in EU circles, and poor legislation deemed sacrosanct. The result is the democratic deficit we observe everywhere today in favour of the political elite.

    No – success on appeal is not by any means a measure of what is just, and certainly not the number of judges.

    • Christopher says:

      This comment served as a reminder to me that some weeks ago I read Ian McEwan’s latest novel, “The Children Act”, whose main character is a late middle-aged female childless family- court judge, whose offices are in London’s Inner Temple district.

      The novel was, for me at least, a rather devastating look at the elitism of the Law’s practitioners, and how far their lives and circumstances are removed from the people they pass judgement on every day.

      McEwan would appear to have done his research thoroughly. This, plus the precision and diamond-like sparkle of the prose, and very believable characters, causes me to recommend highly “The Children Act” to anyone who hasn’t read it.

      • Richard says:

        It was the work of the first lady appeal court judge, Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, that produced the Children Act 1989, and I, as an English lawyer in close contact with family problems, had to familiarise myself with this deeply reforming statute.

        The Act was of immense practical importance and highly beneficial, particularly in the area of private family law, less so in aspects of the public law.

        Butler-Sloss was married and vastly experienced in family problems as a barrister and later in the cases brought before her as a judge

        As to the fiction of which you speak, I have no knowledge.

  12. Richard says:

    It is a great sadness how politics can darken friendships and preoccupy the mind.

    When together we ponder the mysteries and uncertainties, we feed the emotions and the intellect, enhancing our hopes and experiences, rejoicing in the fullness of life.

    Once we abandon this delicate balance, close the mind and peddle our prejudices and manufactured certainties, we cease to converse and begin to confront. All kindness and toleration is forgotten and in the extreme we revert to primitive denunciation. personal attack and ultimately physical violence. It is this last resort that civilisation seeks to quell by laws and non-violent intervention, but with only limited success, particularly in the international arena.

    The disintegration of friendship and enquiry can happen in any walk of life, in any discipline. It is the presumption of politicians that by the exercise of power they can provide the cure. That is the travesty and the tragedy.

    Is there a cure?

    • Christopher says:

      “……Is there a cure?…….”

      No.

      Everything we think is true is personal. Whatever we pontificate about is ultimately about us. Everything we say, however impersonal, however ostensibly “objective”, is autobiographical. Our opinion on any topic tells our listeners invariably nothing new about the topic, but tells them much about us.

      I recently read Ibsen’s “Ghosts”, and came upon this:

      “……we are all of us ghosts………It is not only what we have inherited from our father and mother that ‘walks’ in us. It is all sorts of dead ideas, and lifeless old beliefs, and so forth. They have no vitality, but they cling to us all the same, and we cannot shake them off……”

      We, all of us, stumble through life with all the awareness of the sleepwalker.

      • Cheri says:

        For many people, yes, Christopher…the passage you include (thank you for that) speaks of all of the “mindtalk” that has been passed down generationally. Some of us (and I include myself in the “us”) have worked very hard to “notice” those ghosts and invite them to leave the conversation. We call this practice “mindfulness.” It takes work and concentration.

    • Richard says:

      C.G Jung points the way:

      ……Modern science has subtilised its projections to an almost unrecognisable degree, but ordinary life still swarms with them. You can find them in books, rumours and ordinary social gossip. All gaps in our actual knowledge are still filled out with projections. We are still so sure we know what other people think or what their true character is. We are convinced that certain people have all the bad qualities we do not know in ourselves or that they practise those vices which could, of course, never be our own. We must still be exceedingly careful not to project our own shadows too shamelessly; we are still swamped with projected illusions……
      [Science and Religion per The Essential Jung, Selected Writings, introduced by Anthony Storr.]

    • Cheri says:

      Well. We can not watch the news or read a paper. We can have insipid conversations with all of our friends and family. Or, we can be ourselves, take the risk, and surround ourselves with friends and family who can participate in a stimulating conversation without undercutting the topics with guile.

      • Richard says:

        Ideas, challenges to those ideas, creative compromise, challenges to those compromises I participate in, I watch, I read, I decide upon, I execute, I relish, I accept the consequences; sometimes I advise. Personal confrontation I weary of; it leads nowhere and I tend to opt out. There are times, of course, when I have to stand up and fight those who refuse to converse so that that confrontation escalates and becomes a matter of survival; for that I need to be vigilant. The eventuality is extremely rare, however, and often I imagine it is present when it is not, though I may have to plan for it.

  13. Cheri says:

    Projection is one of those habits which, if not checked often, can deteriorate into a either a narcissism or a deep insecurity. That Jung so elucidly explained projection is one of his great gifts to modern psychology.

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