by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A new lawsuit filed in New York on Monday seeks to make the state’s labor laws for teachers follow the same course recently taken in California, where a judge ruled that overly generous protections for teachers unconstitutionally harmed students.
The lawsuit, Wright v. New York, was filed by seven parents whose children attend public schools in New York City as well as Rochester. The suit, which contains hundreds of pages of backing evidence documenting alleged shortfalls in New York public education, alleges that generous protections given to experienced teachers result in a violation of New York’s constitutional guarantee of a sound basic education.
The legal push is led by Campbell Brown, a former CNN news anchor who has become a major actor in education reform. Brown created the group Partnership for Educational Justice, which announced its intent to sue New York a month ago.
“This is not going to be easy and they are so incredibly brave to be taking this on,” Brown said of the parents participating in the suit during a press conference. At one point, she teared up from emotion.
The group’s legal work will be offered by Kirkland and Ellis, one of the nation’s top law firms.
While Brown says the lawsuit was in the works since 2013, it has a great many similarities with June’s Vergara v. California decision, in which a state judge ruled that California’s labor protections for teachers resulted in poor and minority students being disproportionately taught by ineffective teachers. This inequality, he ruled, violated California’s constitution.