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Queens Chronicle

Queens moms in suit to end teacher tenure

Claim bad instructors harm children

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Posted: Thursday, August 7, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 12:14 pm, Thu Aug 14, 2014.

Tenure and other job protections for teachers deny the constitutional right of New York State children to a good education because they prevent even bad instructors from being fired, seven parents claim in a new lawsuit that seeks to overturn laws they say “confer permanent employment” for teachers.

Two Queens parents are among the plaintiffs: Nina Doster, suing on behalf of herself and her children, Patience and King McFarlane, who attend PS 140 in Jamaica; and Tauana Goins, suing on behalf of herself and her daughter, Tanai, who attends PS 106 in Rockaway. The other plaintiffs are from Brooklyn, the Bronx and Rochester, NY.

The case follows a June ruling for the plaintiffs in a similar case in California, in which the judge declared that tenure and other job protections keep too many incompetent teachers on the job, denying students their right to a quality education as a result.

The New York plaintiffs are supported by the Partnership for Educational Justice, an advocacy group that says it is “challenging factory-era laws that keep poorly-performing teachers in the classroom.”

Saying that it can take 18 months and $250,000 to dismiss one bad teacher, the group notes, “In New York City, the largest school system in the state, only 12 teachers — out of 75,000 in any given year — were formally replaced because of poor performance over an entire decade from 1997 to 2007. Teachers in New York City are more likely to die on the job than be replaced because of poor performance.”

The United Federation of Teachers posted a link on its website to a blog written by a New Jersey resident in response to the lawsuit.

“Those suing to get rid of tenure should spend their time & money ensuring excellent pre-K prep & long-term support for all students,” the blogger said. “If you truly want excellent teachers, work for excellent working conditions instead of destroying the protections that tenure provides.”

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