• How New York Parents, Teachers Union Battle Over Tenure

    State and union officials pleaded with a New York state judge Tuesday to get a lawsuit which threatens teacher tenure tossed out of court.

    According WNYC, officials said the suit holds no water because the legislature made changes in early 2015 to fix the very problems the lawsuit cites. The parents who brought the lawsuit argued the tenure system protects bad teachers.

    “We live in a different world today than when this action was filed,” Assistant State Attorney General Steven Banks said, according to the New York Post.

    Tenure is a common labor practice across the country, especially within the educational systems. It grants an employee a de facto permanent position. The idea is to add job security and, in the long run, reasonable professional creativity without fear of reprisal. It’s initial intent was to empower exemplary employees, but advocates against tenure often cite the protections it affords terrible workers, often as a result of the arbitrary award of tenure after only a short work period — sometimes as short as two years.

    Partnership for Educational Justice and the New York City Parents Union are the two main parent groups behind the lawsuit. Judge Philip Minardo was skeptical of the arguments brought by state and union officials. During the argument, he asked whether lawmakers really did something, or if their entire argument it just empty rhetoric.

    One issue was whether the legal changes addressed seniority protections. The parent groups also alleged the changes didn’t even impact most of the public schools because they focus on those teachers who perform the worst.

    “When fundamentally, 90 percent of the teachers in the state of being given effective or highly effective ratings, and only 30 percent, 33 percent of the students are reading or doing math at grade level, that tells the whole story,” Attorney Jay Lefkowitz said in court according to WNYC.

    The changes to tenure were included as part of the 2015 and 2016 State Budget. According to the governor’s office, tenure is now based on performance and not simply a function of time.

    “A teacher will have to be rated Effective or Highly Effective in at least three of four years to be eligible to receive tenure,” a press release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo detailed. “If a teacher does not meet this threshold, he or she can be terminated or the district may extend the probationary period.”


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