NY teacher tenure system faces new legal challenge - New York News

NY teacher tenure system faces new legal challenge

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By DAVID KLEPPER | AP

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- An educational advocacy group led by former CNN journalist Campbell Brown is challenging New York state's teacher tenure system, filing a lawsuit Monday that alleges that job protections unfairly shield bad teachers.

Seven parents of public school children from New York City and Rochester are the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, filed in Supreme Court in Albany. The lawsuit is the work of a group founded by Brown called the Partnership for Educational Justice.

"If we got rid of tenure they could get better quality teachers," said Keoni Wright of Brooklyn, who is suing on behalf of his twin daughters Kaylah and Kyler, both 7. He said the current rules protect ineffective teachers by making it harder for them to be fired or forced to improve.

State teachers' union president Karen Magee said the lawsuit filed Monday amounts to a politically motivated attack on public school teachers. She said teacher tenure benefits students by protecting good teachers from unfair employment decisions.

"Tenure means teachers can speak freely," Magee said. "Tenure guarantees that caring and dedicated educators can continue to advocate with parents for what's best for students."

The lawsuit comes after a California judge ruled in June that job protections for teachers violate children's constitutional rights. The decision is under appeal, but it's already encouraging critics of teachers' unions in other states.

Another group filed a similar lawsuit earlier this month on Staten Island against city and state education officials.

Jay Lefkowitz, an attorney for the plaintiffs in the newest case, said the California decision "gave everybody a real shot in the arm."

Lefkowitz said the lawsuit doesn't necessarily seek to abolish tenure entirely, but that his clients believe the protections now go too far by making tenure too easily to get and by making it too difficult to remove an ineffective teacher that has tenure.

 

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