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California Teacher Policies Come Under Fire

The negative effects of teacher hiring and retention policies in California are being highlighted in the Vergara v. California lawsuit, an ongoing lawsuit filed by nine student plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs are seeking to strike down teacher employment practices they claim impede true accountability in schools and thus, their right to a quality education.

“I just felt like no matter what I did in the classroom or how hard I worked, that none of it mattered because the seniority date mattered way more than how much I did for kids,” Bhavini Bhakta, a former elementary school teacher of ten years, said in a heartfelt testimony about her experience as an educator in California.

Bhakta continued, “Or what principals would say about me or what parents would say about me, and my love for it – none of it mattered. All that mattered was my hire date. And after that happening for that many years, you think that, ‘I’m not even a person, I’m not even doing anything, it’s just my hired date that matters. I’m a number and not a person.’ And that’s not easy.”

A recipient of a Golden Apple Award at one the schools where she taught, Bhatka was laid off the same year she received that prestigious award. The testimony served as a criticism of California’s critically named ‘last-in, first-out’ approach to retaining teachers, as opposed to a system based more on performance.



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