By Katharine B. Stevens
American Enterprise Institute
“The two recently-filed New York lawsuits claiming that teacher tenure laws violate children’s constitutional right to a “sound basic education” are finally dragging the long-obscure Section 3020-a of the state’s Education Law into the spotlight. This attention is badly overdue because for decades § 3020-a has impeded efforts to ensure a minimum competence level among New York’s teachers.
Section 3020-a is a 3,000-word section of New York’s Education Law, entitled “Disciplinary Procedures and Penalties,” which mandates that tenured teachers can be dismissed only after just cause has been established through statutorily-prescribed administrative hearings. Teachers are evaluated in their schools under the Annual Professional Performance Review, the state’s high-profile new evaluation system. But decisions on whether poorly-performing teachers stay or go are still made according to the decades-old § 3020-a law.”