Bhavini has been a teacher in California for over ten years. She has won awards for her work in the classroom, and she has been a leading voice in the effort to change the education system to better serve students. In 2014, she delivered powerful testimony in the landmark Vergara v. California case, where she described in detail her experience of being laid off at the end of almost every school year during her first nine years of teaching. Her story was a vivid reminder of how California’s teacher employment laws deprive students of their constitutional right to education.
Bhavini’s work on Vergara was not the first time she advocated for reform. In 2013, she worked with several education reform groups to pass legislation enacting a new teacher evaluation system. She spoke in front of the California Senate Education Committee and urged them to vote “yes” on Senate Bill 441. She watched with growing frustration as the bill stalled in committee, with six senators refusing to even cast a vote.
These experiences have been difficult for Bhavini. Although she remains committed to her classroom and students, she is increasingly troubled by the
problems facing California schools and her union’s opposition to change. Through her work with education reform groups, Bhavini learned that state level teachers unions are the biggest financial supporters of the very legislators who have blocked the reforms for which she has fought. Even more troubling is the fact that a good portion of her union dues goes to support harmful educational policies.
Bhavini fully believes in her local union. Despite her ideological differences, she values her local union’s representation and wants to pay her fair share for the benefits it provides. But right now the current system prevents her from remaining a local union member unless she helps fund the very policies that are blocking meaningful reforms that she believes are vital for teachers and students in California.
This fundamental unfairness led her to this case. She hopes that the court will protect her First Amendment rights and ensure that neither she nor any teacher can be forced to support political causes with which they disagree.