For Immediate Release:
November 30, 2017
NEW YORK PARENTS URGE COURT TO ADVANCE CASE FOR EDUCATIONAL JUSTICE
Brooklyn, NY – The Wright v. New York plaintiff families were back in court today to demand that their case for educational justice be allowed to move forward. The Wright plaintiffs are nine parents seeking to enforce New York’s constitutional guarantee of a sound basic education for their children and for all of New York’s schoolchildren. In the trial court, the families won two previous motions to dismiss filed by the defendants and today appeared before New York’s intermediate appellate court to defend their prior victories.
“Antiquated laws and entrenched special interests have created a broken status quo that violates New York’s constitutional guarantee of a sound basic education for all children. The status quo must change when it does not prioritize students’ rights. We are proud to stand with these brave families who are demanding better for their children and students across New York,” said Alissa Bernstein, Executive Director of Partnership for Educational Justice (PEJ).
In oral arguments presented in the Appellate Division, 2nd Department of the New York State Supreme Court, the plaintiffs argued that the existing school system is failing their children, and that the outsized job protections for chronically ineffective teachers across New York must be struck down.
“As public school parents, we deserve to have our day in court. The forces of the status quo can keep playing games with stall tactics and delays, but we won’t let them run out the clock on our kids. We won’t back down until we get educational justice for our children,” said Carla Williams, a mother from Rochester and plaintiff in Wright v. New York.
“The broken education system was built to protect the jobs of ineffective teachers, not educate children. Just look at New York City, where the Department of Education is forcing hundreds of ineffective teachers back into classrooms against the will of school principals. It’s time for the court to step in to protect the rights of our children,” said Nina Doster, a mother from Queens and plaintiff in Wright v. New York.
The Wright v. New York plaintiffs are fighting for their case to move forward just as New York City implements a plan to return to forced placement, a policy that was eliminated in 2005. Research shows that teacher quality is the most influential in-school factor when it comes to student learning. It also shows that student achievement improves when principals are allowed to hire school staff according to quality and fit. Despite this overwhelming evidence, several hundred teachers from the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR) are being placed into classrooms against the will of school principals. The ATR pool is largely made up of ineffective teachers who have been unable to find teaching positions even though there are vacancies. Although the NYC DOE refuses to share details of its plan, ATR teachers will most likely end up in schools with high numbers of teacher vacancies, located mainly in low-income neighborhoods.
About Partnership for Educational Justice (PEJ)
An affiliate of the national education nonprofit 50CAN, PEJ pursues educational equity through legal action that empowers families and communities to improve the quality of public schools. PEJ is currently working with parents and students in New York, Minnesota, and New Jersey in support of legal challenges to unjust teacher employment statutes in those states. In all three states, PEJ has connected families with pro bono legal representation and is providing parents with ongoing legal, advocacy, and communications support.