Students Matter

Over the past five years RALLY has grown Students Matter into the nation’s premier organization dedicated to promoting quality public education through impact litigation and advocacy. We managed the development and execution of the organization’s first two California cases, Vergara v. California and Doe v. Antioch, and their first education equality lawsuit in federal court: Martinez v. Malloy.

In addition to managing earned media and contributing to case development, RALLY is responsible for developing the Students Matter brand, assembling and managing the organization’s advisory board and coalition of supporters, framing policy and using the cases as a platform to put students’ rights front and center in the national education debate.

In 2014, the Los Angeles Superior Court issued a landmark decision on Vergara v. California that reaffirmed the fundamental right of every student to learn from an effective teacher and have an equal opportunity to succeed in school. The argument in Vergara was endorsed by more than 36 editorial boards across the nation and extensively covered by The New York TimesThe Wall Street JournalThe Washington PostPBS NewsHour, CBS Evening News, The EconomistChicago Tribune, and the Los Angeles Times, among others.

Students Matter Plaintiff speaks at Vergara v. California press conference with legal team Ted Boutrous and Marcellus McRae

This work has spawned a series of similar cases, ignited a national dialogue around teacher quality and helped drive a significant shift in public opinion in favor of a kids-centered public education system — opening up a path to create legislative change in California for the first time in decades. A Los Angeles Times/USC Dornsife poll revealed that supermajorities of California voters agree with key tenets of the Vergara case argument: 82 percent of voters believe that teacher performance, not just seniority, should be taken into account when making layoff decisions, and an overwhelming 92 percent said that teachers should be required to demonstrate effectiveness prior to being granted tenure. Our work on the Vergara v. California case also earned RALLY a 2015 Communicator Award of Distinction in the ‘not-for-profit integrated campaign’ category.

Even after a split California Supreme Court declined to review the case in August 2016, the issues highlighted by Vergara have created legislative momentum and laid a groundwork for additional impact litigation in state and federal courts.

Students Matter Plaintiff Julia Macias speaks at press conference after Vergara v. California ruling

Just a day after the Court denied Students Matter’s appeal in Vergara, the organization filed a new lawsuit in federal court, Martinez v. Malloy, with RALLY’s support. In Martinez, a group of Connecticut students and parents are challenging state anti-opportunity laws, which restrict students’ access to quality public school options in the state. If the case reaches the United States Supreme Court, it could provide an opportunity for the Court to recognize students’ rights to a quality public education under the U.S. Constitution.


Visit the Students Matter website to learn more about the organization’s sponsored lawsuits, key research and our fight to promote access to quality public education for all students.

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