NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Fighting Teacher Tenure in New York

January 15, 2015

On the heels of California students' victory last year in Vergara v. California, a lawsuit that struck down the state's teacher tenure system, a New York court will hear arguments this week in a case challenging the Empire State's teacher tenure laws.

The case is Wright v. State of New York, and plaintiffs claim New York schoolchildren are being denied their right to a "sound basic education," as guaranteed by the state's constitution. Why? State tenure laws heap protections on ineffective teachers and base layoffs on seniority, not teaching quality. An organization supporting the plaintiffs, the Partnership for Educational Justice, says New York school children are suffering under these protections. According to the group:

  • Teachers generally receive tenure after three years.
  • It can cost a whopping $250,000 and take 18 months to replace just one ineffective teacher.
  • From 1997 to 2007, just 0.008 percent of New York City's teachers were replaced because of poor performance.
  • New York City teachers are more likely to die than be replaced for ineffectiveness.
  • The best teachers will be removed in the event of layoffs if they do not have adequate seniority, because the state only considers years of service when determining who should be fired.

Former CNN anchor Campbell Brown founded the Partnership for Educational Justice and was recently interviewed by Reason TV about the case.

Source: Jim Epstein and Katherine Mangu-Ward, "Campbell Brown on Her Fight To Get Lousy Teachers Fired," Reason.com, January 13, 2015; "New York Lawsuit," Partnership for Educational Justice.

 

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