California teacher tenure ruled unconstitutional, but fight likely just beginning

In a case that could have a ripple effect throughout the country, a California judge ruled Tuesday that tenure and other job protections for teachers in California were unconstitutional.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of nine public school students argued that it was almost impossible to remove an unqualified teacher in the California system, which awards tenure after two years and bases layoffs on seniority. It could take between two and 10 years and cost $250,000 to terminate a teacher.

"We recognize the vast majority of teachers are good talented people, but what do you do with the ones that aren't?" CBS News legal analyst Jack Ford said on "CBS This Morning" Wednesday.

As part of his ruling, Judge Rolf M. Treu of the Los Angeles Superior Court cited the landmark 1954 civil rights case Brown v. Board of Education, saying California's current system "disproportionately affect(s) poor and/or minority students."

"The judge here adopted that thinking by saying that equal education means a quality education and the judge's conclusion was [the tenure rules] interfere with these students getting a quality education," Ford said.

Ford also said it was interesting this decision came from a court and not legislative bargaining, where the battle over tenure has been taking place for years.

"The question is where does it go now, obviously," Ford said. "It's not binding on anybody yet. It has to work its way through the appellate process here, and then it can be binding in California. But it will be influential. Other people will be taking look at this saying should we take this approach, too?"

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