For Immediate Release:
September 26, 2018
Education Advocacy Organizations and New Jersey Parent Group Submit Amicus Briefs Supporting Plaintiffs in Educational Justice Case Challenging Teacher Layoff Laws
Newark, NJ – Two amicus briefs were filed with the New Jersey Supreme Court in support of the HG v. Harrington educational justice case. Two leading education advocacy organizations, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) and TNTP, joined together to support the plaintiffs’ challenge of New Jersey’s last-in-first-out (LIFO) laws. The NCTQ/TNTP brief is available here. Also submitting a brief with the court was Concerned Parents of Newark, a group of Newark public school parents. The Concerned Parents of Newark brief is available here.
The plaintiffs in HG v. Harrington have filed a formal appeal to overturn a previous decision to dismiss their case. The plaintiff parents assert their right to bring the case and to have the case determined on the merits.
“The court filings from advocacy organizations and parents not involved in the lawsuit underscore the critical public importance of the issues raised in HG v. Harrington, and the need for the New Jersey Supreme Court to hear the plaintiffs’ appeal,” said Bernstein. “Every day that these Newark families are denied their day in court is another day that Newark schoolchildren are denied their constitutional right to a quality education—causing immediate and ongoing harm to children who are depending on the public school system to open the doors of opportunity. We are counting on the court to give these courageous families their day in court,” said Alissa Bernstein, Executive Director of Partnership for Educational Justice.
NCTQ and TNTP, organizations dedicated to improving educator quality, find that there is no in-school factor more crucial for providing a through and efficient education than effective teachers. Abandoning the LIFO requirements would help ensure schools could retain their most effective teachers and that critical education funding is not wasted on ineffective teachers who are not even in the classroom.
In the amicus brief, NCTQ provides data from states demonstrating that implementation of lay-off policies that consider teacher effectiveness as measured by classroom performance have not significantly decreased the number of certified teachers in Colorado or Florida. TNTP provides data demonstrating that in Shelby County Schools (TN) and DC Public Schools (DC), school districts with policies that, among other policies, consider teacher effectiveness in layoffs and hiring policies have improved the quality of their teaching force and student achievement.
Concerned Parents of Newark
Concerned Parents of Newark is an unincorporated association of parents who all have had one or more children who attend public schools in Newark (‘Concerned Parents’). Members of Concerned Parents have fought tirelessly for their children to receive at least an adequate education. Of course, they hope for more, they hope for a high-quality education for their children. Members of Concerned Parents have met with teachers, visited schools, met with principals, and have struggled to understand and ‘work’ Newark’s school choice procedures to get their children into schools known to have effective teachers, adequate building conditions, and school safety measures in place. Concerned Parents have seen first-hand the effects of an ineffective teacher on their children, and the effects of poor learning conditions. In sum, they contend that any dollar that, in the words of the Newark Public Schools, ‘essentially protect the interests of adults over the rights of the children of Newark’ is unacceptable.
They submit this brief to help the Court understand the harm children in Newark’s public schools suffer as a direct result of New Jersey’s last-in-first out, or ‘LIFO’ statute, which is the subject of this litigation. They write to help the Court to see that this harm gives the plaintiffs in this case standing to bring their claims, and that the case is most assuredly ripe for judicial review.
HG v Harrington
HG v. Harrington is a parent-led lawsuit that asks the courts to declare New Jersey’s “last in, first out” (LIFO) quality-blind teacher layoff statutes unconstitutional. These seniority-based layoff laws unjustly require Newark, a struggling school district, to retain ineffective teachers, while cutting millions of dollars each year from other areas of education spending or laying off more effective teachers when faced with funding deficits.
About Partnership for Educational Justice (PEJ)
PEJ pursues educational equity through legal action to improve the quality of public schools. PEJ utilizes a variety of legal actions to achieve its mission, including pursuing impact litigation, amicus brief filings, Freedom of Information Act requests, and other law-related avenues that seek to achieve meaningful reforms of education laws or policies that fail to prioritize students’ rights. PEJ is an affiliate of the national education nonprofit 50CAN: 50-State Campaign for Achievement Now, which advocates at the local level for a high-quality education for all kids, regardless of their address.