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Reaction to judge's ruling holding California's teacher tenure, layoff laws unconstitutional

Reaction from policy makers, lawmakers, and education activists to a Los Angeles judge's ruling Tuesday that five California laws governing teacher tenure, layoffs and dismissals are unconstitutional because they infringe on the right of all students to a quality public education:

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"The students who brought this lawsuit are, unfortunately, just nine out of millions of young people in America who are disadvantaged by laws, practices and systems that fail to identify and support our best teachers and match them with our neediest students. Today's court decision is a mandate to fix these problems." — U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

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"It's surprising that the court, which used its bully pulpit when it came to criticizing teacher protections, did not spend one second discussing funding inequities, school segregation, high poverty or any other out-of-school or in-school factors that are proven to affect student achievement and our children." — American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.

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"Judge Treu's groundbreaking ruling is a victory for California's students and affirms their fundamental right to a quality education - regardless of their zip code. I applaud the parents and the nine courageous students who stood up for their future and their right to a quality education. It is my hope that this movement continues on the national stage for all of our students." — Former District of Columbia schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, founder of the education reform group StudentsFirst.

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"Let's be clear: This lawsuit was never about helping students, but is yet another attempt by millionaires and corporate special interests to undermine the teaching profession and push their own ideological agenda on public schools and students while working to privatize public education." — National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel.

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"Being a kid, sometimes it's easy to feel like your voice is not heard. Today, I am glad I did not stay quiet. I'm glad that with the support of my parents I was able to stand up for my right to a great education." — Julia Macias, one of nine student plaintiffs on whose behalf the laws were challenged.

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"We have set our public education system in the direction with these current laws that fail our children. This case was designed to change that, to ask how do the rules that govern our education system advance the interests of California children — and today we have our answer: they don't." — Silicon Valley entrepreneur David Welch, whose nonprofit group Students Matter spearheaded and financed the case.

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"The long-range question is whether the 'reformers' efforts to remove all job protections from teachers will affect the number of people who choose teaching as a career and how they will affect the nature of the profession over time." — education historian Diane Ravitch.

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"Teachers are not the problem in our schools, they are the solution." — California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

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"For too long, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson and the Sacramento education establishment have defended a broken status quo. Instead of working to make sure every child has access to a quality education, they have wasted taxpayer money fighting to derail this lawsuit." — Marshall Tuck, candidate seeking to unseat Torlakson as California's superintendent of public instruction.

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