- Did Campbell Brown file a lawsuit in New York?
- Does PEJ want to cut funding for public education and redirect people into private schools?
- Who is funding Partnership for Educational Justice?
- Why is tenure reform needed when New York has instituted teacher evaluations?
- Won’t rolling back tenure eliminate due process rights for teachers?
- Is your goal to dismantle teachers unions?
- Does PEJ oppose the consolidation of Davids v. State of NY and Wright v. State of NY?
The Partnership for Educational Justice (PEJ) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to help families and students advocate for the great schools and teachers they deserve through coalition building and legal action.
The group was founded by Campbell Brown, a former journalist with CNN and NBC and parent advocate, and is led by executive director Reshma Singh, an education advocate who previously led external relations for charter management organization Achievement First.
In an attempt to distract from the case filed by seven courageous families trying to improve education for their kids and others around New York state, those who oppose our efforts keep raising the same questions that we’ve already answered.
In the courtroom, lawyers can object when the opposing counsel raises a question that has already been answered.
Objection, your honor. Here are questions that have been asked and answered:
Did Campbell Brown file a lawsuit in New York?
No. Seven plaintiffs from across the state of New York filed the lawsuit, also known as Wright v. New York. Plaintiffs filed the suit on behalf of their minor children who experienced a harmful impact as a result of the teaching they received in the classroom. The suit is named after Keoni Wright, a father from East NY, Brooklyn who saw a growing achievement gap between his twin daughters after they were taught by different teachers as Kindergarten students.
PEJ is providing organizational support to the Wright family and other plaintiffs.
You can find the text of Wright v. New York here.
Does PEJ want to cut funding for public education and redirect people into private schools?
Not at all. Our organization was founded to strengthen public education. We know that the quality of teaching is the single biggest factor in determining whether students will succeed or fail.
There are other things we can do to strengthen public education, like fully and equitably funding schools and paying teachers like professionals. We support those things too. That said, we must also address education policies that have made it nearly impossible to dismiss teachers that are shutting down opportunities for students.
Who is funding Partnership for Educational Justice?
PEJ’s Founder Campbell Brown provided the seed funding for PEJ herself, and the lawyers at Kirkland and Ellis are representing the plaintiffs in Wright v. New York pro bono. Additional funding has been provided by a bipartisan group of donors. Like many other non-profit organizations, we have donors who wish to remain anonymous.
Why is tenure reform needed when New York has instituted teacher evaluations?
Tenure has become disconnected from teacher quality. Under New York law, schools must decide after 3 years whether teachers are granted tenure — a supreme level of job protection that can amount to permanent employment.
Once a teacher is grated tenure, an additional set of laws, New York’s disciplinary statutes, make it nearly impossible to dismiss a teacher that has been found to be ineffective, taking years if principals decide to engage at all in the process.
The nation’s top school official, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, has summed it up well: Tenure itself is not the issue. Job protections for effective teachers are vital to keep teachers from being fired for random or political reasons. But “awarding tenure to someone without a track record of improving student achievement doesn’t respect the craft of teaching, and it doesn’t serve children well.” It’s clear that the current tenure system in New York does not promote teacher quality and we working with families to take the necessary measures to change it.
Won’t rolling back tenure eliminate due process rights for teachers?
This lawsuit is not intended to — and it will not — eliminate due process protection for teachers entitled to it. The mechanisms provided under the state tenure law go over and above what due process requires at the expense of students’ educational experience.
Tenure has become disconnected from teacher quality. Under New York law, schools must decide after 3 years whether teachers are granted tenure — a supreme level of job protection that can amount to permanent employment. And state law makes it nearly impossible to dismiss a teacher that has been found to be ineffective, taking years if principals decide to engage at all with the odds staked against them. In a study of disciplinary proceedings between 1995-2006, the proceedings took an average of 520 days to complete costing taxpayers an average of $128,000.
Is your goal to dismantle teachers unions?
No. All sides can agree that we must elevate teaching and the hardworking professionals who teach our students. These reforms are aimed at ensuring tenure is granted once and only if we have determined a teacher’s effectiveness, giving administrators and districts the flexibility to run great schools and ensuring that teachers aren’t laid off simply due to seniority.
Does PEJ oppose the consolidation of Davids v. State of NY and Wright v. State of NY?
No. Please refer to this letter to the court filed August 22, 2014.