UFT Works to Defend Teacher Protections

Politico reports that in New York, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) has filed a motion to dismiss two lawsuits that are aimed at overturning many teacher job protections, including teacher tenure.

The two lawsuits were combined this fall. The first was filed by former CNN news anchor Campbell Brown. Several parents organized the other suit. They name the state, the state Education Department and the state Board of Regents as defendants. UFT pursued and was granted permission to intervene.

UFT argues that the lawsuits are politically motivated and that the cases were “not brought by aggrieved plaintiffs who have been denied a ‘sound basic education’,” but instead by “political advocacy groups attempting to drive policy that is in closer alignment with their own political preferences.”

The union holds that there is “no basis in law for these suits,” and cautions that ending teacher tenure subjects teachers to the risk of losing their jobs for speaking out about unfavorable school policies. It can also mean that teachers can be fired for giving students of powerful or well-connected parents bad grades.

UFT also contends that the suits were filed in order to “distract the court, the legislature and the public form the many challenges faced by school systems,” particularly insufficient funding, large class sizes and student poverty. The union argues that teachers make a “convenient scapegoat” for the plaintiffs.

Judge Phillip Minardo will hear the combined cases in New York State Supreme Court in Richmond County.