“When a child in class is educationally neglected, that’s a criminal act.”
“The reality is that this lawsuit is a last resort. We are acting because leaders in Albany have not.’”
-Carla and John Williams, Plaintiffs & Parents from Rochester, NY
NEW YORK — Yesterday, six families from across New York State announced the planned filing of a lawsuit that will challenge teacher tenure laws that keep ineffective and even dangerous teachers in the classroom. Support rained in from around New York and the nation.
The plaintiffs are receiving support from Partnership for Educational Justice, a new organization dedicated to ensuring that every child in New York has access to a quality teacher. PEJ was founded by longtime journalist and parent advocate Campbell Brown and Reshma Singh, formerly of Achievement First.
Wall Street Journal – “New York State Challenge Planned on Teacher Tenure Law”
“Ms. Brown wants a verdict in her group’s case to spur legislators to come up with better education policies. … Her team has been meeting with parents to find plaintiffs. One is Jada Williams in Rochester, who wrote a seventh-grade essay complaining about teachers who she said gave no real instruction and failed to manage unruly students. Her mother, Carla, said in an interview: ‘When a child in class is educationally neglected, that’s a criminal act.’”
“Quality teaching should not come down to the luck of the draw. It is foundational for life. And yet it is unequally distributed — painfully so — across our state, with poor and minority students disproportionately bearing the brunt of ineffective instruction.”
“What parents want is not radical, but reasonable: Equal access to good teachers across New York State. Their day in court is coming.”
New York Daily News – Campbell Brown: “Why we’re fighting N.Y.’s teacher laws”
“Exasperated and out of options, the Williamses and other parents plan to sue New York in hopes of ending a problem as disastrous as it sounds: state laws that end up keeping inferior teachers in our schools.
The lawsuit they will file aims to shift the balance of power behind the goal that matters most, and one spelled out in our state Constitution — the right to a sound education for all children.
At its core, the suit seeks to end laws that keep ineffective teachers in the classroom, restrict schools from dismissing them and prioritize seniority over quality when teachers are laid off.
The Williamses’ story shows why it has come to this. “
New York Post Editorial Board: A lawsuit to upend New York tenure laws
“An earthquake struck California this month. This week, the aftershocks finally hit New York. …
This week, a new parents group called Partnership for Educational Justice, headed by former TV news anchor Campbell Brown, teamed up with some top-flight legal talent.
They announced plans to back six New York students who plan to file a Vergara-like suit based on our constitution’s promise of a “sound basic education.”
Now, we would prefer reform to come from legislators rather than litigants.
But looking at Albany’s recent actions — watering down teacher evaluations and killing a tuition tax credit — that’s clearly not happening on its own.
Brown says her suit may be the prod Albany needs to get its act together and stop treating our public-school system as a jobs program.
It’s about time.”
Albany Times-Union – “Teacher tenure in cross hairs”
“Emboldened by a state court decision in California, an education reform group plans to file a lawsuit challenging New York’s teacher tenure laws — including the central seniority protection known as ‘last in, first out.’
The new organization, called the Partnership for Educational Justice, claimed in a Tuesday news release detailing the planned suit that the current system helps ‘keep ineffective and even dangerous teachers in the classroom.’
The action, likely to be filed in the next few weeks in state Supreme Court in Albany, will include at least six families as plaintiffs, though more could be added, according to attorney Jay Lefkowitz of the Kirkland & Ellis law firm, which has taken on the case pro bono. …
He said the pending suit was similar to the Vergara action in its challenges to New York’s ‘last in, first out’ rule, which dictates that teacher layoffs must be done by reverse seniority regardless of performance, as well as the current system’s award of tenure after a probationary period that in most cases lasts three years.
Lefkowitz said the suit didn’t seek to eliminate due process for teachers, or ‘tenure for teachers generally. But we are saying it’s given too soon, and when combined with the disciplinary procedures, makes it almost impossible to remove an ineffective tenured teacher.’”
Buffalo News – “Six families to challenge New York’s teacher tenure laws”
“’The reality is that this lawsuit is a last resort,’ parents Carla and John Williams of Rochester said in a written statement announcing the planned lawsuit. ‘We are acting because leaders in Albany have not.’”
Rochester Democrat & Chronicle – “Bolstered by California decision, group eyes challenge to NY teacher tenure”
“The Partnership for Educational Justice, a newly launched group founded by anchor-turned-advocate Campbell Brown, claims the state’s tenure system violates the constitutional right to a “sound, basic education.” Specifically, the group intends to target the “last in, first out” policy, which ties teacher layoffs to seniority rather than performance.
The group, bolstered by a major ruling in California tossing the state’s teacher tenure policies, says six families —including one from Rochester — will file a lawsuit in Albany in early July.
‘Year after year our politicians have failed to act on common sense reforms,’ Brown said in a statement. ‘These families feel they no choice but to ask the courts to step in. All of New York’s children deserve access to a great education and these families will not wait another day.’”
Chalkbeat New York – “Advocates preparing lawsuit to target New York state teacher tenure laws”
“A national movement to prove that job protections for teachers prevent students from learning is getting ready to target New York state.
Six students and families, with the pro-bono help of a powerful New York City law firm and new advocacy group headed by former CNN journalist Campbell Brown, announced on Tuesday that they would file a lawsuit challenging state laws that critics say make it next to impossible to fire ineffective teachers. The process, they say, violate a student’s constitutional right to a sound and basic education.”
Students Matter – “Students Matter Statement on the Partnership for Educational Justice’s Lawsuit in New York”
“In New York, like in California, where students have constitutional rights to an education and where the legislature fails to act to bring necessary change, the courts provide an essential and important venue to ensure constitutional rights are protected. As we saw first-hand in the groundbreaking education equality lawsuit, Vergara v. California, unreasonably onerous teacher tenure, dismissal, and ‘last-in, first-out’ laws—together and independently—cause significant, measurable harm to students’ educational and lifetime outcomes and serve no legitimate government interests.
We commend Partnership for Educational Justice’s efforts to protect student’s constitutional rights by challenging New York’s burdensome tenure, dismissal and ‘last-in, first-out’ laws, and support their efforts to ensure New York’s education statutes prioritize our kids’ best interests”
Capital New York – “Brown: Tenure suit could force ‘new legislative process’”
“Campbell Brown hopes her lawsuit challenging New York’s teacher tenure laws will ‘force a new legislative process’ around a broad swath of union-backed teacher protections across the state.
‘This is an opportunity for lawmakers to do what they’ve failed to up until now, and for the teachers’ union to be part of a conversation to figure out what makes sense in this day and age,’ Brown told Capital on Tuesday. ‘This could potentially be the pressure point that could force action.’
The Wall Street Journal first reported on Tuesday morning that Brown has identified six students to serve as plaintiffs on a lawsuit that seeks to invalidate New York’s teacher tenure laws, inspired by the controversial decision in the recent California v. Vergara case that found key teacher tenure protections there unconstitutional.
Brown’s lawsuit will claim that New York’s teacher tenure laws deprive students of their constitutional rights. She called the laws ‘anachronistic,’ and said they defy basic common sense.”
Morning Joe – “Education Group Challenging NY Tenure Laws”
Steve Rattner: “What Campbell is doing is trying to attack one piece of the problem. We can’t, even Campbell can’t solve this entire thing, so she’s taking on a piece of the issue … and trying to make progress.”
Eva Moskowitz - Founder and CEO of the Success Academy Charter Schools
@MoskowitzEva: All children need & deserve a quality education. @Part4EduJustice takes action to ensure #edjustice now: http://on.wsj.com/1jKpvg9 @lesliebrody
Michelle Rhee - Founder of Students First, Fmr. D.C. Public Schools Chancellor
@MichelleRhee: EVERY child deserves high quality teachers & schools. The momentum of #Vergara continues in NY thx to @campbell_brown & @Part4EduJustice
@StudentsFirstNY: Inspired by the #Vergara decision, parents & students prepare to file their own lawsuit in the NY Supreme Court: http://on.wsj.com/1jKpvg9
@StudentsFirstNY: “We are acting because leaders in Albany have not,” say parents w/ @Part4EduJustice who plan to file lawsuit: http://on.rocne.ws/1nCJxdH
Stephanie Simon – Politico
@StephanieSimon: @campbell_brown planning East Coast version of Vergara trial, taking on NY tenure & teacher seniority protections. https://www.politicopro.com/education/
Jacob Gershman – Wall Street Journal
@jacobgershman: A new advocacy group is helping parents prepare a challenge to New York’s teacher tenure/seniority laws. http://online.wsj.com/articles/new-york-state-challenge-planned-on-teacher-tenure-law-1403578853 @lesliebrody
Carrie Melago – Wall Street Journal
@carriemelago: After Vergara ruling, an advocacy group is preparing to challenge New York’s teacher tenure and seniority laws. http://on.wsj.com/1lMDXty
Liz Benjamin – Host of New York’s Capital Tonight
@CTLizB: Coming soon: @campbell_brown vs. NYS’ teacher tenure & seniority laws, following decision in California. http://online.wsj.com/articles/new-york-state-challenge-planned-on-teacher-tenure-law-1403578853
Pennsylvania State Representative Ryan Aument (R-PA 41)
@RepAument: “My hope is this would be a wake-up call to politicians who failed to solve these problems for years”@campbell_brown: http://goo.gl/1TcET4
Teach for America New York
TFANewYork: “Single most important school based factor: the teacher.” @campbell_brown @Morning_Joe @Part4EduJustice http://bit.ly/1nZHqDO #Teach4NY
Eliza Shapiro – Capital NY
@elizashapiro: Looks like @campbell_brown will be first ((http://capi.tl/U48ZBN ) to levy a Vergara-inspired lawsuit against NY (http://on.wsj.com/1jKpvg9 )
ABOUT PARTNERSHIP FOR EDUCATIONAL JUSTICE
Partnership for Educational Justice helps students, families and communities advocate for the great public schools they deserve though coalition building and legal action. All children, no matter their background or circumstance, deserve access to a sound education. The inequalities that exist in our educational system are the civil rights issue of our time. Motivated by a pervasive lack of meaningful progress in ensuring a supportive learning environment for all students, Partnership for Educational Justice challenges antiquated education laws that prevent public schools from providing all students with an excellent education. Targeted litigation will be supported by an aggressive communications campaign at the local, state and national level. Through its work, Partnership for Educational Justice will mobilize families, community stakeholders and organizations to form effective coalitions that increase pressure on legislators and other decision makers to reform our educational system.
Founded by Campbell Brown, an award-winning journalist and writer, Partnership for Educational Justice is in the process of becoming a 501c3 organization.