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Tenure safeguards good teachers from being fired for bad reasons

Eskelsen García: Cases undermine rights of every single teacher to speak up for their students


WASHINGTON - January 14, 2015 -

Oral arguments were heard today in a courtroom in Staten Island, N.Y., in two meritless lawsuits, Davids v. New York and Wright v. New York, which attempt to strip New York teachers of their due process rights by overturning state teacher tenure and seniority laws. The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Lily Eskelsen García, a former Utah Teacher of the Year who now leads the nation’s largest teachers union:

“The National Education Association supports fair due process procedures like tenure that prevent good teachers from being fired for bad reasons. Tenure protects proven teachers from discharge for such arbitrary and unfair reasons as advocating on behalf of their students, speaking out in support of educational reforms, and standing up to unfair or abusive administrators. This case is about undermining the rights of every single teacher to speak up for their students without fear of retribution.

“Tenure is working. An award-winning Teacher of the Year faced dismissal for reprimanding students who skipped class to smoke marijuana. In another case, a math teacher’s job was in jeopardy for fighting to keep a district-wide tutoring program in place. We must make sure that good teachers are allowed to advocate unapologetically for their students.

“Every student has the right to a highly qualified teacher in the classroom, and the vast majority of teachers do a good job under difficult circumstances. Where tenure laws are in need of revision, NEA and its affiliates, like the New York State United Teachers, have supported revisions to ensure that tenure works to protect effective teachers, not to prevent the discharge of teachers who cannot meet reasonable performance expectations after being given a reasonable opportunity to do so. The revised New York tenure dismissal process ensures that most dismissal cases are resolved within just five months’ time.

“If we’re serious about ensuring that, regardless of his or her zip code, every student has access to the best teachers, we need to focus on what really helps students the most: recruiting the right people into teaching, providing ongoing training, paying teachers a decent salary, developing reliable ways to measure teacher effectiveness, and giving teachers the resources to help every child succeed. NEA and our members are committed to working together to raise the standards for entry into the teaching profession and ensure that new teachers are provided with the supports they need to become effective teachers within their first few years in the classroom.”

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The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional employee organization, representing nearly 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Staci Maiers  (202) 822-7150 or (202) 270-5333 cell, smaiers@nea.org