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California Teacher Unions Appeal Tenure Ruling

LOS ANGELES (CBS / AP) -- California's powerful teachers unions fought back Wednesday against a court ruling that struck down state laws on tenure and job protection for their 400,000 members, less than a week after Gov. Jerry Brown filed his own appeal.

The California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers argued that the ruling was riddled with errors and "is without support in law or fact," according to their filing with the California 2nd District Court of Appeal.

In June, Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu ruled in Vergara v. State of California that five California Education Code provisions violated the state's constitution by depriving some of the state's 6.2 million students of a quality education.

The filing came in a lawsuit by nine students who contended that the last hired-first fired layoff rules saddled schools -- especially those in poor and minority neighborhoods -- with bad teachers who effectively couldn't be fired.

The unions have argued that the laws protect academic freedom and help attract and retain teachers.

The lawsuit is "baseless, meritless, and masterminded by self-interested individuals with corporate education reform agendas that are veiled by a proclamation of student interest," California Teachers Association President Dean E. Vogel said in a statement.

The lawsuit was financially backed by Students Matter, a nonprofit group founded by Silicon Valley entrepreneur David Welch.

In a statement, the group said the unions "have chosen to ignore the best interests of students" and by defending the laws, their leaders are seeking "to perpetuate inequality in the classroom."

The unions also have argued that teachers are being blamed for poor results caused by other problems, such as a lack of funding or overcrowded classes.

The court ruling takes "the easy route of blaming teachers for the conditions they work in," California Federation of Teachers President Joshua Pechthalt said in the statement.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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