Why are you resorting to lawsuits instead of lobbying state and local governments to change their educational policies?
In too many communities the voices of students and families calling for common-sense changes have fallen on deaf ears for far too long. When politicians and union leaders fail to fix laws and policies that harm students and keep children from getting the education they deserve, the courts provide communities with a way to seek justice, enforce their constitutional rights and make positive change.
What is PEJ’s ultimate goal?
We want all kids to have access to great teachers and a great public education. We are asking the courts to take an objective look at the current education laws, so they can decide whether the policies that flow from them are violating students’ rights. If the courts find that these laws are unconstitutional, then the laws would be changed to prioritize students’ rights.
If the teacher quality lawsuits are successful, won’t they make teachers vulnerable to capricious decisions by school administrators?
No. The lawsuits do not seek to do away with tenure in its entirety. Teachers provide one of the most important services in our society, and they deserve fair protection against discrimination and wrongful employment termination. Unfortunately, in some states, the laws providing job protections for teachers are so extreme that they amount to ironclad jobs for life, irrespective of demonstrated effectiveness in the classroom. State laws and local policies must strike a better balance in protecting the interests of students, and should be recalibrated to protect our most effective teachers, rather than simply those who have been in the classroom longest.
Will you be filing other cases?
We are currently speaking with families to explore potential cases in other states.
How do you pick the communities where you work?
We work with communities where it’s clear that unjust laws, regulations, and policies are harming students, and where students and their families lack the voice they deserve in shaping the future of their schools. We empower communities to advocate for common-sense changes that will help all students get a great education from their public schools.
Can you get involved in my community?
If you think your community could benefit from our help, share your story with us.
I don’t live in a community where you work, but I want to support your efforts. How can I help?