Students Sue California for a Better Education, and Their Closing Argument Is Gripping

Watch plaintiffs' lead cocounsel, Marcellus McRae, make a compelling case.
Mar 28, 2014· 0 MIN READ
Stephanie Mercado is a journalism student at Cal State-Fullerton and formerly worked at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Vergara v. California, a case brought by nine California public school students against five state statutes they say keep ineffective teachers at the front of the class, concluded Thursday with an emotional closing argument by the plaintiffs' lead cocounsel, Marcellus McRae.

"Just because you have a license doesn't mean you can win the Indy 500. Just because you have a credential doesn't mean you are an effective teacher. That argument is done," said McRae.

Plaintiffs argued that the current state tenure laws harbor ineffective teachers and inhibit decent public education—cheating students of their right to equal opportunity.

"Right now we are kids, and we can't do this alone. We need good teachers in schools to help us," said plaintiff Elizabeth Vergara, a high school junior, during a press conference following the trial's conclusion.

While the state awaits Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu’s final decision, some higher-ups in the education system are feeling down in the dumps. “It’s incredibly demoralizing to hear this attack on teachers and our unions, as though we’re the enemy of public education, the enemy of kids,” Joshua Pechthalt, president of the California Federation of Teachers, told Politico.

McRae, on the other hand, left the courtroom feeling optimistic. He said he felt confident his team proved the laws harmed children.

This article was created as part of the social action campaign for the documentary TEACH, produced by TakePart's parent company, Participant Media, in partnership with Bill and Melinda Gates.