“More than 85 percent of RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll respondents oppose New York’s tenure and seniority protections for teachers.
The battle over teacher tenure moved to New York last month. In a pair of lawsuits, parents backed by advocacy groups challenged the state’s tenure and seniority protections for teachers, arguing that these are the product of outdated laws that effectively deny students’ constitutional right to a sound basic education.
The New York suits were filed in the wake of a June decision in which a California judge struck down that state’s laws on tenure and seniority. Among the plaintiffs in the latest New York case, filed last week, are parents of two Rochester schoolchildren.
The plaintiffs argue that New York’s education system protects “ineffective teachers well above what due process requires and at the direct expense of their students’ constitutional rights. … Cumulatively, these laws make it nearly impossible to dismiss and discipline teachers with a proven track record of ineffectiveness or misconduct.”
School districts statewide typically grant tenure to new teachers after a three-year probationary period and after only two years of performance review, which “is inadequate to assess whether a teacher has earned the lifelong benefits of tenure,” the suit maintains.
In addition, the plaintiffs contend that under New York’s “LIFO (“Last In First Out) Statute,” school districts conducting layoffs for economic reasons “must fire junior, high-performing teachers (while) senior, low-performing and more highly paid teachers continue to provide poor instruction to their students.”
In response, New York State United Teachers president Karen Magee described the suit as “a politically motivated attack against every dedicated teacher in New York.” She said tenure “ensures that teachers have the freedom to teach effectively and the liberty to oppose policies or cuts that harm students,” adding that the seniority system “guards against abuses by those who would use ‘layoffs’ as another way to terminate those who advocate too fiercely, are older or are at the top of the pay scale.”
Roughly 875 readers participated in this week’s poll, conducted Aug. 4 and 5.
Do you support or oppose New York’s tenure and seniority protections for teachers?