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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Mona Davids and Campbell Brown Throw Sand at Each Other in the Sandbox

NYC Parents Union

**We apologize for only sending our press release today.  Unfortunately, we are not funded by secret fundersor anyone for that matter, so we do all our public relations, media outreach, communications, website etc. ourselves. We are all parent volunteers, not paid tens of thousands per month to do PR or pay for staff.**

For Immediate Release

September 17, 2014

Mona Davids, (646) 872-7149

Sam Pirozzolo, (917) 533-3437



“We Will Not Be Bullied!  Celebrity Campbell Brown Does

Not Represent Us.”

New York City Parents Union Statement Regarding Campbell Brown's Attempts

To Sabotage Parent-Led Lawsuit Regarding Bad Education Law


On July 3, 2014, the lawsuit Davids v. New York was filed by 11 New York City students
against the State of New York, the New York State Board of Regents, the New York State Education Department, the City of New York and the New York City Department of Education. An extension of the ongoing efforts by parents to improve the quality of education in New York State, this lawsuit seeks to declare as unconstitutional certain provisions within New York State’s Education Law that deny students the “sound basic education,” considered a fundamental right under Article XI, §1 of the New York State Constitution.

Davids v. New York was filed against the State of New York — not against teachers or any union — pursuant to this State’s constitutional obligation to ensure the availability of a sound basic education for all of its children.  Davids is about modernizing the teaching profession and ensuring that our education system is performance-based and not quality-blind.  Above all, this lawsuit is an affirmation of the importance of teachers to the quality of students’ education and it is a challenge for all of us to do things differently to make sure our students are getting all of the resources they need to succeed.  New books and desks are not enough; there must be a highly motivated, highly effective teacher in each classroom every day.

Unlike California -- where 
Vergara v. California challenged that state’s “Last In First Out” (LIFO) provisions, dismissal provisions and tenure provisions -- we are challenging only New York’s state’s LIFO and dismissal statutes.  Davids v. New York will force essential changes in bad law.  We are not challenging the tenure law in New York due to the recent amendments of the law that require school districts to consider classroom performance as a factor in granting permanent employment.  The fact that New York State now considers “teacher quality” as a component of its tenure decisions is a critical distinction when comparing New York’s education laws with California’s.

New York City’s parents chose to take action on behalf of their children and on their own terms, independent of other organizations and agendas.  During a similar period of time, Ms. Campbell Brown, a media celebrity involved specifically with anti-union crusades also decided to pursue legal action.  Her case is titled 
Wright v. New York.  Ms. Brown’s primary interest was and remains the elimination of tenure for teachers.  The New York City Parents Union’s lawsuit,Davids v. New York, was announced, filed with the court and served prior to Ms. Brown’s filing of her lawsuit and the announcement thereof.

On August 7, 2014, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, representing all government agency defendants, filed a motion to consolidate 
Wright v. New York with Davids v. New York, resulting in a single case.  Mr. Schneiderman also requested that the case be tried in Richmond County -- the Borough of Staten Island -- and that the consolidated case remain titled as Davids v. New York.  Despite the different focus of Brown’s case, the Davids plaintiffs agreed to the consolidation and also agreed to the United Federation of Teachers' motion to intervene on behalf of their union’s members.


In contrast to the Davids plaintiffs spirit of cooperation, however, celebrity Campbell Brown has engaged in a deliberate and methodical effort to undermine the strength ofDavids v. New York and sabotage the efforts of real parents to improve their children’s education.  Ms. Brown has decided that having her name in the headlines is a top priority and, aided and abetted by others, she has used the threat of “economic sanctions” in an attempt to reduce financial support for Davids v. New York and the efforts of the New York City Parents Union.

On August 14, the NYCPU met with Randy Mastro, Esq., a partner with the law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, which was providing legal representation to the 
Davids v. New York plaintiffs.  At this meeting, the plaintiffs were advised by Mr. Mastro that Campbell Brown and her supporters were waging a bullying campaign behind the scenes to undermine and sabotage Davids v. New York, including the threat of clients leaving Gibson Dunn as well as threats to funders of Students Matter, an education advocacy organization that organized the Vergara lawsuit, and threats conveyed to RALLY, a public relations company working with theDavids plaintiffs.  The appalling extreme and sensitive nature of this situation has led involved parties to deny the threats and generate creative reasons for changing their relationships withDavids v. New York.

After refusing to go “on the record” addressing or denying these allegations to reporters, and only after agreeing to deny our allegations “off the record,” Ms. Brown finally responded “on the record” in an email to former California State Senator Gloria Romero, the sponsor of the California Parent Empowerment Law and also a columnist for the Orange County Register.

On August 28, 2014, after learning that Ms. Romero had confirmation of Ms. Brown's bullying from a credible Students Matter source, Campbell Brown denied our allegations in an email to Ms. Romero and proceeded to instruct Gibson Dunn, 
our attorneys, to respond to Ms. Romero with a statement.

A mere 12 minutes later, Gibson Dunn -- 
our law firm with whom we had a retainer agreement – proceeded to violate attorney-client privilege by following Ms. Brown's instructions and sending Gloria Romero an email that called our allegations absurd included a statement that Gibson Dunn would no longer be representing the student and parent plaintiffs in Davids v. New York.  This email and statement was sent hours before attorney Randy Mastro actually notified us – his clients -- in a short email that Gibson Dunn would no longer be representing us.

It was beyond disappointing to be confronted by a bully posing as an ally.  In New York City, we say “No” to bullies.  As real parents with our children’s futures on the line, we will not be bullied!  Celebrity Campbell Brown has chosen to use intimidation as hermodus operandi.  Celebrity Campbell Brown’s ego does not deserve our praise, nor does her obsession with teacher tenure.  Celebrity Campbell Brown does not represent us parents – and she will not stop our children and us from proceeding with Davids v. New York.  Celebrity Campbell Brown is not the saviour of New York’s children from low-income families or black and brown children … and she has no right to represent herself as such when she chooses to use money and connections to trample on the rights of those children and their families.

Unlike Ms. Brown's lawsuit, 
Davids v. New York has been organized by independent, grassroots parents with a long history of advocating on both a legislative and judicial level for our children.  The parents of the student plaintiffs are members of the New York City Parents Union, a parent-led organization dedicated to ensuring that every child receives equal access to a high-quality and affordable public education.  The New York City Parents Union and its members are also plaintiffs in two ongoing school funding lawsuits – actions pursued to ensure that New York's public school children receive all the school funding they are entitled to under the law per the important Campaign for Fiscal Equity court decision.

Through this lawsuit, we seek to create an opportunity for education stakeholders — students, parents, teachers, legislators, and organized labor — to create a better review system that elevates teacher quality, raises the prestige of the teaching profession as a whole, and promotes access to a sound education for all students. 


# # #


September 11, 2014 Press Conference videos of Davids v. New York parent plaintiffs speaking out against Campbell Brown's bullying, undermining and attempted hijacking of our independent, grassroots, parent led lawsuit.

Click the pictures to watch the videos.




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In Teacher-Tenure Battles, a War for Public Opinion Can Obscure the Nuances

Whoopi Goldberg is the latest celebrity to weigh in on the topic of teacher tenure, fueling what seems to be increasing national attention to the topic.
Her comments appear to be prompted by a lawsuit organized by former news anchorCampbell Brown against New York state's tenure and dismissal rules. Fresh off her appearance on "The Colbert Report," Brown has been making the early-morning talk-show rounds. (Not to be outdone, the American Federation of Teachers' Randi Weingarten fought back Tuesday on the MSNBC program "Morning Joe.")
At this rate, teacher tenure may exceed the Common Core State Standards as an education policy lightning rod, even as a possible wedge issue in the midterm and 2016 elections.
One thing's for sure: There's a war out there to win public opinion on the merits, or demerits, of tenure laws. Advocates like Brown are focusing on broad-brush arguments that tenure rules make it too difficult to get rid of poor teachers. Unions, alternatively, posit that tenure protects teachers from reprisals, and that attacks on tenure are really attacks on organized labor and public education. (The AFT sent back-to-back missives this week urging its allies to tweet and post to Facebook stories to that effect.) 
Given the conventional wisdom that perception is nine-tenths of the reality in political warfare, this back and forth makes sense. But it's worth taking the time to remember that tenure laws—which prevent teachers from being dismissed without cause, typically established in a hearing—are actually complex, obscure, and context-specific. State legal codes on tenure go on for pages and pages, spelling out in detail such matters as the reasons constituting just cause for firing, the timeline for filing charges and hearing cases, the type of evidence that can be presented at hearings, the appeals process, and so on and so forth. 
For cases of dismissal for incompetence, the picture is further complicated by disagreementsabout what constitutes an effective teacher and how to measure one. And, as with all laws, they can be implemented well or poorly.
My point is that there's a lot here in the weeds to examine. We'll do our best here at Education Week to keep you above the fray and understanding these nuances .