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Albany must stand firm for teacher evaluations

This file image shows teens sitting in a

This file image shows teens sitting in a classroom and raising hands to answer aquestion. Photo Credit: iStock

A groundbreaking court decision 3,000 miles away could someday have a revolutionary impact on New York City education.

A Superior Court judge in Los Angeles ruled that California's system of easily earned teacher tenure, with its "last in, first out" layoff policies and burdensome dismissal procedures, is unconstitutional.

Experts say Tuesday's decision, which teachers unions vow to appeal, is almost certain to be followed by broad legal challenges elsewhere in the hope of forcing reform to tenure and dismissal procedures in education.

This is the way the wind is blowing nationally -- against the entrenched rights of unionized teachers and toward the reforms students need to succeed.

New York City could use a strong gust of this stuff.

Teachers in the city's 1,700 public schools are up for tenure after three years. Over time that perk has helped create an ossified system that protects the least able instructors -- and often clusters them in areas with large proportions of impoverished minority students.

The California lawsuit was funded by tech entrepreneur David Welch, who says he's willing to pay for the same legal battle in other states, including New York.

He could do a tremendous amount of good here.

With 1.1 million students and 75,000 teachers, the New York City system would give him a chance to strike a major blow for reform.

Leaders like Welch are fighting to improve education because they know the nation's schools are failing to give enough kids the skills they need to succeed.

Meanwhile in Albany, where the legislative session will wrap up next week, union efforts to throw yet another wrench into teacher evaluations are at full throttle.

The Assembly is a lost cause on this issue, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Senate must stand firm against unions -- like the United Federation of Teachers -- that have been open in their defense of the status quo.

Teacher evaluations can improve education. Impossible dismissal processes like those in New York hold it back.


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