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Teacher tenure battle shifts to New York

Published: Friday, Aug. 1 2014 4:40 a.m. MDT

Updated: Friday, Aug. 1 2014 1:31 p.m. MDT

Silicon Valley entrepreneur and founder of Students Matter David Welch makes comments on the Vergara v. California lawsuit verdict in Los Angeles, Tuesday, June 10, 2014.

Damian Dovarganes, Associated Press

Former CNN anchor Campbell Brown was on hand with the group she organized in New York Monday as they filed suit to invalidate the state's teacher tenure laws. Following on the California case that is still on appeal, the suit makes clear the national implications of this new front of the education wars.

The New York Daily News announced the new lawsuits Sunday, noting Brown and her allies "argue that the current tenure, seniority and dismissal protections make it almost impossible to fire bad teachers in New York State. They also say that the layoffs policy in which most recently hired teachers are the first to be fired deters the best new educators."

Brown's Partnership for Educational Justice may file similar lawsuits in other states, Capital New York reported.

"We're under no illusions that this is going to be incredibly challenging," Brown said, according to CNY. "When you're trying to change a system like this, when you're trying to fight powers that have been fighting to maintain the status quo for as long as they have. Do you think it's going to be easy? Of course it's not."

Predictably, not everyone is happy with the suit.

“Campbell Brown does not speak for me,” Elzora Cleveland, a parent and de Blasio appointee to the Panel for Education Policy, told Chalkbeat New York, asserting that Brown was “attacking the rights of our skilled and experienced teachers."

In preparing the ground for the suit, Brown laid out her arguments at the Daily News, outlining three focal points for the challenge: seniority, tenure and dismissals.

Much of this is a direct and conscious echo of Vegara v. California, where a state judge found the Golden State's teacher tenure laws in violation of the state's constitution.

Email: eschulzke@desnews.com

Related story:

Does firing bad teachers make it harder to find good ones?

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