Teaching Profession

Minn. Teacher Tenure Lawsuit Revived

By Emmanuel Felton — January 17, 2017 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The Minnesota parents behind a lawsuit against that state’s teacher tenure laws have announced they will appeal an October trial court decision to throw out their case, reports the Star Tribune.

As in the high profile Vergara case in California—in which the California Supreme Court ultimately ruled against parents seeking to upend teacher tenure protections—the plaintiffs in the Minnesota case are arguing that the state’s tenure apparatus, particularly requirements that teachers are laid off based on seniority, makes it next to impossible for administrators to get rid of bad teachers.

But Denise Specht, the president of the state teachers’ union, said tenure laws aren’t just for the benefit of teachers but also students and parents as they allow educators to speak up when schools wrong children.

“These laws don’t prevent bad teachers from getting fired, they prevent good teachers from being fired for bad reasons,” Specht said in a statement. “Tenure laws protect teachers who speak out about the learning conditions in their schools. They are what assure parents they are getting the real story at conferences, or PTA meetings, or when they read an interview with a teacher in the newspaper. These laws are the teachers’ First Amendment.”

Like in similar cases, the Minnesota parents are arguing that ineffective educators disproportionally hurt poor and minority students and they conclude that tenure is contributing to the state’s wide racial achievement gaps. But Ramsey County District Court Judge Margaret Marrinan ruled that the plaintiffs had failed to sufficiently prove the connection. Echoing the California courts, Marrinan concludes that teacher tenure would best be hashed out in the legislature instead of in the judiciary.

The lawsuit is being backed by the Partnership for Educational Justice, a New York-based nonprofit that has sponsored similar tenure lawsuits in New York and New Jersey. The group was founded by former American television news anchor Campbell Brown, who is close friends with Betsy DeVos, president-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education.


A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession Reported Essay Students Aren’t the Only Ones Grieving
Faced with so many losses stemming from the pandemic, what can be done to help teachers manage their own grief?
4 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Teaching Profession Reported Essay Teachers Are Not OK, Even Though We Need Them to Be
The pandemic has put teachers through the wringer. Administrators must think about staff well-being differently.
6 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Teaching Profession We Feel Your Grief: Remembering the 1,000 Plus Educators Who've Died of COVID-19
The heartbreaking tally of lives lost to the coronavirus continues to rise and take a steep toll on school communities.
3 min read
090321 1000 Educators Lost BS
Education Week
Teaching Profession Letter to the Editor Educators Have a Responsibility to Support the Common Good
A science teacher responds to another science teacher's hesitation to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
1 min read