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Landmark Teacher Tenure Trial Concludes

The landmark education trial has pitted students against teachers and might decide the fate of teacher tenure policies nationwide.

A landmark education trial, Vergara v. California, concluded in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom on Thursday, as lawyers on both sides made the case for why teacher tenure and employment protection laws should either be kept or discarded.

Representing the nine student plaintiffs who filed the suit against the State of California and two teacher unions, attorney Theodore Boutrous said, "Teaching is the one profession in the world where you cannot tell a person they are not doing a good job."

Boutrous said five particular statutes should be eliminated so as to make firing a teacher easier, to end the policy of blind layoffs during forced layoffs, and to lengthen the timeframe during which tenure is awarded to teachers. 

But attorney James Finberg, representing the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers, countered that the employment protections minimize the role of favoritism and politics in personnel decisions. 

"The statutes should not be struck down on the basis of a handful of anecdotes,'' Finberg told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu, who will decide the verdict. 

The closing arguments cap off a two-month trial that has galvanized education activists and drawn the attention of teachers and education policy makers from across the nation. 

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