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Tenure challenge takes center stage in NY

Rochester, N.Y. - Dozens of teachers and parents lashed out Wednesday at the lawsuit taking aim at teacher tenure.

The state lawsuit was filed Monday.

It includes two plaintiffs with children in the Rochester City School District.

The suit claims the states laws are outdated and protect bad teachers from being fired.

It even takes to task the state's Annual Professional Performance Review, also known as APPR, saying it doesn't adequately identify unsuccessful teachers.

This kind of a lawsuit is distracting us as parents and teachers from working together so we can find the real solutions to our public schools, Rosemary Rivera with the Citizen Action of New York and Public Policy and Education Fund of New York said in a press conference.

There's something more sinister about this lawsuit, parent and RCSD teacher Diane Watkins said.  It's as old as the industrial revolution. This lawsuit is about taking away the last bastion of protection from public workers. This is about the wealthy class of society using working class people to dismantle that last bastion of protection.

Mona Pradia said thats not the case.

My story is not uncommon, Pradia said.

Pradia is one of the local plaintiffs in the case.

She says shes speaking out because its an opportunity to make sure her child and other children have a quality education.

Pradias daughter used to attend school No. 33, where she had two teachers, Pradia says were committed and worked with parents.

When those teachers were laid off and replaced, she says there was a change.

It didn't seem like we were on the same page as far as making academics the center, focus of what we were there to do and there wasn't a partnership, said Pradia.

David Hursh, a professor at U of Rs Warner School of Education points to the historic background of tenure and unions.

Until the rise of teacher unions and tenure, in many communities, teachers were hired on political, familiar and personal connections. Sometimes to make room for those new hires, other teachers were fired, teachers could be fired because of their race, ethnicity, religion or because board members and administrators did not like what they taught, said Hursh.

But Pradia argues that this isnt about punishing good teachers, but wants schools to take a second look at teachers who are rated poorly.

I really like to support teachers who are in there doing what theyre supposed to do and my kids, our kids are comfortable with that situation and theyre progressing, said Pradia. Thats all I want for my kids and Im sure other parents want the same thing for their kids to be successful, educational wise.

A spokesperson for the New York State Education Department told 13WHAM News it has no comment on ongoing legal matters.

When this case actually sees a courtroom is still to be determined.

Legal experts say it could be two to three years.









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