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Campbell Brown’s PEJ Is Having Trouble Connecting Test Scores with Tenure Laws

October 29, 2016

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.

flushed-toilet

____________________________________________________________

Released July 2016– Book Three:

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

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Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of both A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

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From → litigation, Tenure

6 Comments
  1. Jack Covey permalink

    For the various Vergara-styled lawsuits that PEJ is pushing — in three states, California, Minnesota, and New York — Campbell & Co. keep picking pretty dismal choices for plaintiffs. This is in contrast to say, Roe v. Wade, where the attorneys cast about far and wide for the ideal plaintiff … indigent, denied in her own state, couldn’t afford to travel to another state .. etc.

    Campbell and PEJ didn’t follow that model in any of the Vergara or the other two Vergara-type cases

    For example, had those plaintiffs’ stories — in California & Minnesota — instead resembled this cliched scenario or sequence of events:

    CORPORATE REFORM HORROR STORY (best told around a campfire at the annual Camp Philos corp. ed. reform retreat.)

    1) the plaintiff’s public school teachers were dreadful… those lemont teachers read the newspaper when they should have been teaching, were visibly drunk in class, played Disney feature film cartoons all day, couldn’t teach their way out of a wet paper bag … yadda-yadda-yadda …

    2) the parents complained about these bad lemon teachers, but

    — a) the administration did nothing

    — b) the evil unions backed the lemon teachers

    3) so the parents put pressure on the administrators

    4) the administrators then went into action, but the teachers, with help from the dastardly failed-status-quo unione, lawyered up and fought back, using the evil union contract as their weapon of choice;

    5) after costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, the efforts of those administratorsto remove the teachers failed … and the lemons remained.

    6) they then showed that the students’ test scores, college acceptance rates (later on), etc. were far below other non-lemon teachers.

    If that above scenario — like the oft-repeated fable that Reagan and others who told about the black woman who drove her new Cadillac to pick up her welfare check — were as widespread as Campbell & Co. claim, surely the PEJ lawyers could have found, and then put such students forward as their plaintiffs, but again and again, they don’t. They’re obviously not as ubiquitous as Campbell Brown claims they are.

    Who knows? Maybe they tried to find them, but failed.

    For example, none of the California’s Vergara plaintiffs’s stories were anything even remotely like this. Indeed, Raylene Monteroza’s “lemon teacher”, Christine McLaughlin, was named “Teacher of the Year” twice, once by one organization, once by another!!! (Good job selecting plaintiffs, David & Ted!)

    Dr. Ravitch covered this a couple years ago:

    https://dianeravitch.net/2014/

    x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

    DIANE RAVITCH:

    “At the Vergara trial, a student identified one of her teachers as
    undeserving of tenure. She named Christine McLaughlin of Blair Middle
    School. Ms. McLaughlin had been selected as Pasadena Teacher of the
    Year. So which is she?

    “This reader writes:

    “ ‘Here’s a video of one of the “grossly ineffective teachers” and “2013 Pasadena Teacher of the Year” named in this lawsuit (by her former student and plaintiff Raylene Monterroza):

    Mind you, this above video was played during court, and Ms. Monterroza was questioned about how it felt to watch the video of students praising her “grossly ineffective teacher” (starting at 00:49).

    She replied that watching it was upsetting, and that those students must have been lying as that wasn’t Ms. Monterroza’s experience.

    Hmmm…

    Watch the “teacher of the year” video again, starting at 00:49, where the students give their opinion of the teachers:
    ( 00:49 – )

    ( 00:49 – )
    Do these kids sound like they’re lying? Do the kids’ description of their teacher Ms. McLaughlin align with the criteria of the stereotypical “grossly ineffective teacher” that the Vergara legal team claims that Ms. McLaughlin is?

    Again, this is a video portrait, as you see, celebrating and profiling Ms. McLaughlin’s award-winning teaching, as the “Rotary’s Pasadena 2013 Teacher of the Year.”

    The student plaintiff, Ms. Raylene Monterroza, claimed in her testimony that those students in the video can’t be telling the truth, as it conflicts with her own experience. She said that watching that video prior to her testimony, “upset” her… as it included countless students contradicting her and the entire Vergara team’s claims that Ms. McLaughlin is… again… “a grossly ineffective teacher.”

    Again, watch the video portrait of Ms. McLaughlin (who was also won the Pasadena NAACP’s “2008 Star of Education” award, by the way) and ask yourself…

    So which is Ms. McLaughlin?

    … a deserving, multi-award-winning “Teacher of the Year”, praised to the hilt by countless students in the video?

    OR

    … “a grossly ineffective teacher” according to JUST ONE student, and a
    teacher who taught the (Vergara plaintiff) Ms. Monterroza “nothing,” and
    thus destroyed Ms. Monterroza’s education?

    “Indeed, this whole Vergara trial was like something out of Mao’s “Cultural Revolution” in China during the 1960′s. For those not acquainted with this, here’s primer: zealous students, under party leaders’ directions, would persecute their teachers. Kids would get their jollies as they put their teachers on a stage, put dunce caps on them, then screamed at them while forcing their teachers to bow their heads, kneel down, and confess their “crimes” and on and on…”
    x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

    I loved how the lawyers opposing PEJ in PEJ’s Minnesota case, brought up the fact that, in Minnesota, charter schools whose teachers have no tenure, are nevertheless rock bottom in academic achievement in the state, as measured by test scores. Those schools can cream the best students — both at the front end, and later through kicking out kids. Therefore, they should be kicking ass, but instead, they suck.

    The judge even mentioned that in his ruling. Unlike California’s Judge Treu, the justice in Minnesota decided to actually look at the facts instead of grandstanding for attention.

    So much for PEJ’s vaunted “no-tenure-for-teachers-leads-to-better-student-peformance” cause-and-effect argument.

  2. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    This is a wonderful report, but I think that the outcome will not deflect the continued assault on teachers and expansions of these legal maneuvers to teacher education programs. Miserable student test scores, can be linked back to rate and perhaps put a legal proceeding on each teacher’s preparation program. ESSA and with most states having data links in place that can identify the “teacher of record” for every student who can be enlisted for a legal proceeding.

    I wonder when Mecedes, now a gifted amateur in legal affairs, will move into a program and get full professional standing, Another degree, like a black belt, for fighting the good fight.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Campbell Brown’s PEJ Files Another Lawsuit– Now In New Jersey | deutsch29
  2. Minnesota: Campbell Brown’s Lawsuit Against Tenure Tossed Out by Court | Diane Ravitch's blog
  3. Ed News, Tuesday, November 8, 2016 Edition | tigersteach
  4. A Challenge for Campbell Brown’s The 74: Publicize Your Detailed History | deutsch29

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