Campbell Brown’s PEJ Is Having Trouble Connecting Test Scores with Tenure Laws
On October 26, 2016, the Minnesota teacher tenure lawsuit prodded by Campbell Brown’s Partnership for Educational Justice (PEJ) hit a roadblock when Ramsey County (MN) Judge Margaret Marrinan tossed out the PEJ-supported (instigated?) Forslund vs. Minnesota suit on the grounds that the suit “failed to establish a link between low academic achievement and the due process provided by the tenure laws,” as the Star Tribune reports.
PEJ has a library of the documents in the case, including the motions to dismiss the suit, and the plaintiffs’ opposition to the motions to dismiss, and the defendants’ responses to the plaintiffs’ opposition to the motions to dismiss. (Indeed, the legal back-and-forth is rather detailed, and costly, to be sure. I am still waiting for access to the PEJ tax form from 2014-15, which has been filed in June 2016 and which includes $4.7 million in revenue as of November 2015.)
The State of Minnesota was one entity that filed a motion to dismiss Forslund. In the State’s July 2016 reply in support of motion to dismiss, the State concisely captures the reason the Judge Marrinan dismissed the suit as reported in the Star Tribune (note that no record of Marrinan’s exact words is publicly available as of this writing):
Plaintiffs Lack Standing. The State Defendants demonstrated in their initial memorandum that Plaintiffs lacked standing because their First Amended Complaint failed to identify a concrete, particularized, and actual or imminent “injury-in-fact,” fairly traceable to the teacher tenure laws. … Plaintiffs reiteration of their generalized grievances set forth in the First Amended Complaint do not alter this conclusion.
Nor will this case remedy Plaintiffs’ alleged harms. … As Plaintiffs acknowledge, eliminating teacher tenure will not ensure Plaintiffs’ children never again receive a teacher they consider “ineffective.” … Furthermore, Plaintiffs also fail to address the causal deficiencies in their claims, including the fact that (1) it is speculative whether elimination of the teacher tenure laws would result in greater teacher “effectiveness” or higher district-wide test scores; and (2) that Minnesota Charter schools, which do not have tenure, are disproportionally represented among Minnesota’s lowest performing schools.
The reason for dismissal of the suit is straightforward: No established, direct connection between teacher tenure laws and those dastardly low test scores– with the low test scores of charter schools (which have non-tenured teachers) blasting the no-tenure, higher-test-score pseudo-argument.
Still, as PEJ offers in a press release that appears pretty well ignored in the mainstream media, an appeal is coming:
PEJ Statement in Response to the Granting of Motions to Dismiss Forslund v. Minnesota by the Ramsey County Court
Today, in response to the granting of defendants’ motions to dismiss Forslund v. Minnesota, challenging the state’s teacher tenure, dismissal, and layoff laws, Partnership for Educational Justice Executive Director Ralia Polechronis released the following statement:
“While the Minnesota courts have considered and ruled on many education cases in the past, this is the first time that they have been asked by parents to consider the constitutionality of teacher employment statutes. Under these circumstances, it’s no surprise that the battle for students’ rights will be hard fought.
The fact remains that far too many students in Minnesota, especially those from communities of color and low-income families, are not receiving the quality education to which they are entitled. The plaintiff families are preparing to appeal, and remain committed as ever to continue this fight until students’ rights are justly put above unfair job protections for chronically ineffective teachers.”
– Ralia Polechronis, Executive Director
Note that the press release does not directly confront Forslund vs. Minnesota’s lack of a directly-established connection between Minnesota’s teacher tenure laws and any specific, negative student outcome.
This appeal is already swirling around the bowl.