Also last Monday, seven families from throughout the state – backed by the Partnership for Educational Justice – filed a legal challenge seeking to invalidate the state’s tenure laws for teachers. The case, Wright v. New York, was filed in the State Supreme Court in Albany. The Partnership for Educational Justice was formed by Campbell Brown, a former CNN anchor.
The plaintiffs claim that their children were underserved in the public schools due to incompetent teachers who only kept their jobs because of tenure rules that violate kids’ constitutional right to a sound, basic education.
The suit challenges three of the basic tenets of teacher tenure. The first is that schools districts must base layoffs off seniority, known as the “first in, last out” mandate. The second is the requirement that teachers be given or denied tenure after three years. The third is that laws mandating due process for teachers under review have made it almost impossible to fire ineffective teachers.
Karen Magee, the head of New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) released a statement in which she called the suit “a politically motivated attack” against teachers.
The suit is the second filed this month challenging tenure, layoff and teacher discipline procedures in New York. The other was brought on July 3 in Staten Island Supreme Court by the New York City Parents Union, an education reform group. The two cases make many of the same arguments against the shortcomings of teacher tenure and discipline, and they may be combined at some point.