Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Why Parent Leaders Should Join Court Intervention in Support of Tenure

Some folks should take some time and school parents and leaders in the history of NYC and schools.  Political cronyism was rampant in NYC during the early part of the last century. This politicization of jobs and schools resulted in chaos each time a new administration came into being.  Teachers were fired wholesale unless they belonged to the right political part AND to the right political club within the party.  We are setting ourselves up for a repeat of the early 20th Century job for votes governance that ended with corruption probes and arrests.... a NYC parent

If you are interested pl fill out form below and email to aschwartz@afjlaw.com thanks Leonie

Why Parent Leaders Should Join
Court Intervention in Support of Tenure

Over the last few weeks two lawsuits have been filed in New York, one in Staten Island and one in Albany, seeking to have the Courts declare that tenure for teachers is unconstitutional under the New York State Constitution.  According to these lawsuits, the 80-year-old system of giving teachers job security undermines the right of school children to a “sound basic education.”
In New York, tenure is a system whereby a teacher who retains employment after a three year probationary period cannot be fired or disciplined without the presentation of formal charges and the right to a hearing before a neutral hearing officer.
At first blush, parents might look at this controversy and ask, “What does it matter to me?  This is a problem for teachers and their union to deal with.”  But a growing group of parent leaders have decided that the voices of parents need to be heard in this controversy, and they plan to intervene in these lawsuits on the side of teachers and their job security.  Why?
·         Those who bring these suits blame the problems of our school system on “too many bad teachers.”  Parent leaders all know that the problems we deal with in getting our children educated arise principally out of inadequate funding.  A lack of money means overcrowded schools, classes that are too large, a lack of basic resources, a lack of subjects like music and art, and insufficient money to provide adequate instruction to special needs children.  These lawsuits divert attention from this issue, and parent leaders need to keep pointing to funding, not “rotten teachers,” as the root of our problems.
·         Teachers everywhere are under attack, and fewer and fewer of the best college graduates are attracted to teaching.  Tenure means that you can make a career out of teaching and be assured that taking on difficult schools won’t result in unemployment.  We need more teachers, not less.
·         Job security promotes creativity.  Statistics show that the schools with the highest scores on standardized tests are in states with tenure, and that in states where job security doesn’t exist, school performance is lower.
·         A lack of job security will not only undercut creativity, it will undercut whistle blowing by teachers.  Parents need to know that teachers will speak out about poor administration, inadequate resources, and poor curriculum planning.  Teachers who fear that they will lose their jobs will not speak out.
·         Job security also assures that administrators will not act to have friends and cronies at the expense of a dedicated, experienced workforce.  Tenure was put into place in order to eliminate arbitrary behavior in the hiring process.
·         If anything, teacher tenure laws need to be strengthened because the country is bleeding teachers, especially in large urban districts.  Between 40 and 50 percent of teachers nationwide leave the job within five years.  If we make the terms of employment less favorable, more will leave.
                Can we do a better job of training and developing teachers?  Sure.  But removing tenure doesn’t do anything to get us closer to that goal.  In the meantime, teachers’ rights are a convenient scapegoat.
                Teachers are an ally in the fight for better budget priorities.  Parent leaders should stand with them.


____     I wish to be an intervenor in the lawsuits challenging tenure and I want to be on the side supporting tenure. I understand that this will make me a party to the lawsuits.

____     I agree to retain the public interest law firm Advocates for Justice to represent me in the lawsuits. I understand that this representation is pro bono.




City_____________________________________         State________________         Zip__________________

Home phone_____________________________         
Cell phone___________________________________

Email address________________________________

School which my children attend_____________________________________________________________

I am a parent leader. I hold the following positions:_____________________________________________



Return to Arthur Schwartz, at 212-285-1410 (fax) or email to aschwartz@afjlaw.com

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