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Teacher tenure fight gains momentum with ruling

Saturday, July 12, 2014 - Updated: 4:08 AM

NEW YORK (AP) -- A month after a California judge ruled that job protections for teachers violated children's constitutional rights, one lawsuit making the same claim has been filed in New York, another has been announced and critics of teacher tenure in other states say they are preparing litigation as well.

The June ruling in California has been stayed pending appeal and may never take effect, but critics of teachers' unions are seizing on the idea of using the courts to weaken union power and thus try to improve schools.

Mona Davids, president of the parents group that filed the New York lawsuit targeting teacher tenure last week, called educational inequity "a crisis of epic proportions." She said New York City neighborhoods that are mostly black and Latino have the schools with the highest concentration of teachers rated unsatisfactory.

"Yet," Davids said, "every attempt to hold teachers accountable for educating our children is blocked."

The California ruling struck down state laws dictating how long it takes for a teacher to earn tenure as well as rules that protect senior teachers during layoffs. The plaintiffs argued that such union-backed job protections mean that poor and minority schools are staffed disproportionately by bad teachers, which violates students' rights.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said such lawsuits "mean a continuation of the artificial division that in order for students to win, teachers must lose."

     

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