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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

UFT, NYSUT Fight to Keep Tenure in New York State Supreme Court

How I wish the UFT and NYSUT meant what they said today:

“For the past 10 years, teachers have been demonized across the country,” he said. “You can’t demonize people and expect them to say, ‘hit me again.’ We’ve got to end this reign of terror.”
- Attorney Charles Moerdler
When I worked for the UFT 2007-2010, I was told not to question the investigations of any agency, OSI, SCI, OEO. I asked: "How can we defend members' rights if we do not question the tactics and conclusions of investigators who either do not know what they are doing, or deliberately choose to make false claims into facts?"

I was told to be quiet. Me? Quiet? Not when someone's rights are at stake.

Ergo, I do not work for the UFT anymore.

Betsy Combier, Editor
President, ADVOCATZ

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Unions call for dismissal of anti-tenure lawsuit

Lawyers for the city, the state, the UFT and its state affiliate NYSUT asked a Staten Island judge on Aug. 25 to dismiss the lawsuit to abolish tenure brought by TV personality Campbell Brown and others on the grounds that the state Legislature has dealt with many of the issues in play.
The union lawyers argued that Brown and her group were bent on destroying teachers’ due process rights under the guise of education reform. “Creating a climate that demonizes teachers does not help children and it does not improve education,” said Charles Moerdler, a partner at the law firm Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, which is representing the UFT, after the hearing.
Charles Moerdler
The lawsuit, filed in 2014 after plaintiffs in California won a similar lawsuit at the lower court level, charges that teacher tenure deprives New York children of a sound, basic education, as guaranteed in the state constitution. 
“It would be unprecedented to say public employees can have no job protection,” said Richard Casagrande, the NYSUT general counsel, in his oral argument in court. “This is a political attack that says if we just take away teacher rights, we’ll improve education.”
General Counsel Richard E. Casagrande
The UFT and NYSUT joined city and state attorneys in arguing that the lawsuit should be dismissed because the state Legislature this spring significantly altered the statute governing tenure and the teacher evaluation and discipline process. For new hires, the standard probationary period is now four years and teachers will usually need three years of Effective or Highly Effective ratings to earn tenure; and teacher disciplinary proceedings have been further expedited. 
Their remarks were made during oral arguments before Justice Philip G. Minardo in a packed courtroom of the Richmond County Supreme Court on Staten Island. Minardo reserved his decision for a later date after hearing passionate arguments from — and asking pointed questions to — both sides.
Minardo grilled the union representatives on the details of the legislative changes, but saved some of his toughest questions for Jay Lefkowitz, the lawyer for the plaintiffs.
State Supreme Court Justice Philip G. Minardo and Dr. Marianne LaBarbera, sitting and John Minardo and
Kathryn Krause Rooney at the couple's wedding reception in the Richmond County Country Club, Dongan Hills. (Courtesy/Joey G. Making Memories) February 2015
Lefkowitz argued that the lawsuit should proceed because changes in the law merely “tweaked” existing laws. He also insisted that the teacher evaluation process was based on “soft factors” or subjective observations instead of “hard metrics.”
The judge reminded him that evaluations are based in part on student performance on tests as well as observations, which may indeed be subjective. “Subjectivity has a place in all professions, does it not?” he asked.
During the hearing and afterwards in remarks to the press, Moerdler drew a direct connection between attacks on teachers and the news of a nationwide teacher shortage.
“For the past 10 years, teachers have been demonized across the country,” he said. “You can’t demonize people and expect them to say, ‘hit me again.’ We’ve got to end this reign of terror.”

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