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Calif. teacher tenure ruling spurs other states to sue

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By The Associated Press
Friday, July 11, 2014, 7:48 p.m.

NEW YORK — 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 teacher 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 parent 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 job protections mean that poor and minority schools are staffed disproportionately by bad teachers, which violates students' rights.

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

Another group, the Partnership for Educational Justice, founded by former CNN newswoman Campbell Brown, says it soon will file an anti-tenure lawsuit in New York.

And parent activists in Connecticut and Pennsylvania say they are in the early stages of preparing similar lawsuits.

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