NEW YORK – The Wright vs. NY plaintiffs who brought suit in July against the State of NY alleging that the State’s teacher tenure, dismissal and layoff policies violate their children’s constitutional rights filed an Opposition Brief today. The Opposition Brief was submitted to Judge Minardo in Richmond County in Staten Island in response to Motion to Dismiss requests made by various defendants and intervening parties.
In their Opposition Brief, Wright vs. NY parent plaintiffs describe the systemic educational crisis across the state, where ineffective teachers are promoted and retained at extraordinarily high levels but only a third of students are meeting proficiency standards on their English and math exams. Parents also explain why the defendants’ motions to dismiss are meritless and should be denied:
• The parents have stated a claim for relief in their Complaint. Existing case law in NY establishes what research has otherwise confirmed: students can only learn, succeed, and overcome adversity if they are taught by effective teachers. But the statutes the parents are challenging keep too many ineffective teachers in the classroom and ultimately deprive students of their constitutional right to a “sound basic education.”
• Defendants want to shield these harmful laws from judicial scrutiny and insulate their unconstitutional policies from review. But Plaintiffs have standing to file this lawsuit because enforcement of these laws is injuring students statewide every day. Plaintiffs’ children have been taught by ineffective teachers and face the future risk of being taught by other ineffective teachers. They are the very group of people that Article XI of the NY State Constitution is intended to protect.
• Courts play a vital role in our democracy, ensuring that other branches of government don’t deprive citizens of their constitutional
rights. That is what plaintiffs ask the court to do here. Defendants try to paint this as a political dispute, but it is a claim of constitutional dimension that the court should decide.
“The New York Constitution guarantees my son’s right to a sound basic education. I’ve experienced firsthand how quality teachers can make a life-changing difference for my child. But I also know too well the impact of laws that keep ineffective and dangerous teachers in the classroom at the expense of my child’s education. I and other parents deserve our day in court to challenge unconstitutional laws that have harmed, and continue to harm, countless students and families across the state.”—Laurie Townsend, plaintiff, mother of Nakia Townsend, student at PS. 101 in Queens.