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Monday, July 28, 2014

Brown's Crusade to Turn Teachers and Tenure into Scapegoats

Campbell Brown Practices her Pose

The NY Daily News had a piece yesterday:  "Exclusive:  Second lawsuit challenging tenure to be filed by group of New York families."  The second suit, launched by Campbell Brown, came as no surprise following Vergara.  It only remains to be seen if and when this suit will combine with the one launched by Mona Davids of the NYC Parents Union.    

Tenure's benefits far outweigh any potential costs (see here, for example).  And for those who would say, teachers do not need an added layer of protection, I would say some teachers are intimidated even with tenure.  Tenure is necessary as an added layer of protection to guarantee the due-process rights of those who would bravely stand up for students' rights "to a sound, basic education," including the provision of legally-required special services for children with I.E.P.s. 

The parents in Brown's lawsuit will "charge that their children are underserved in schools due to incompetent teachers."  As in Vergara, the children hail largely from impoverished communities and plaintiffs seek to pin students' lack of success solely on teachers.  A student's performance, however, is much more than the total of a teacher's effort.  A teacher cannot be effective for a student without a parent or guardian giving support when needed, a student committed to homework and study, a supportive administration, basic supplies and a generally healthy environment. 

The irony is immense.  Campbell Brown, now heads an organization called Partnership for Educational Justice.  She says, "I think we should evaluate every education law or policy by first asking, 'Is this good for children?'"  But if she was really concerned about what is good for children, she would raise the obvious issues of class size, charter school co-locations, lack of classroom supplies, over-testing, the increase in childhood poverty, etc., the issues that really hit at the heart of Educational Justice.  Yet, she and her "reform group" are silent on these issues.  Is it that they are blind or is it something else?  When asked who is funding her campaign against teachers, Brown is equally silent.  This says a lot more to me than any of her words.

For the time being, the case does not name any ineffective teachers, but you can sure bet that any good Samaritans who teach students from poorer neighborhoods may soon be wishing they had taken that more highly paying job in the suburbs.  If you work with poorer kids, doubtless, there's a target on your back already.  

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