Jewish World Review June 17, 2014 / 19 Sivan, 5774
Quality education -- for all
By Paul Greenberg
A trial judge in
This case is styled Vergara v.
In a blow for equality of opportunity in his state, and maybe in this country, His Honor Rolf M. Treu of the
As the judge noted, laws that let incompetent teachers keep on miseducating kids in failed schools "impose a real and appreciable impact on the students' fundamental right to equality of education."
It was only fitting that the plaintiffs who brought this case to court should be nine children, as in the Little Rock Nine who challenged racial segregation in another time -- the Little Rock Crisis of 1957. Once again it is the kids, millions of them, whose futures are at stake. This time they're threatened by the elaborate systems of teacher tenure and mountains of red tape that protect the most incompetent teachers in our public schools -- the kind of teachers who have destroyed the hopes of children and their families for generations.
Judge Treu struck down things like the "last-in, first out" rule that puts seniority above all other considerations when it comes to laying off teachers, especially those who should have been forced out years ago. You could almost hear the deadwood in so much of American education shake as His Honor handed down his decision in plain, to-the-point English. For it's not easy -- indeed, it's well-nigh impossible -- to get rid of bad teachers in
Only four of those menaces to kids' education were finally shown the door, two collected lavish settlements, and one stayed on the payroll to go on crippling the next generation. And generations. Pitiful. Also wasteful and shameful. Which is why the judge's decision in this case is a heartening victory for quality education, not to mention truth, justice and the
Every year, every day, lost in a child's education is invaluable, and hard if not impossible to make up. And every day these poor excuses for teachers stay in the classroom, the damage they do to children's lives is incalculable.
In his eloquent decision, it was only right that His Honor should cite Brown v.
The word on the street, or rather in courthouse corridors and departments of education, is that this landmark decision could ripple out all over the country. For some of us, those ripples can' get here fast enough.
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Paul Greenberg is the Pulitzer prize-winning editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
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