January 08, 2015

Casagrande: Tenure is 'essential to attract and retain good teachers' (with video)

Source:  NYSUT Communications

NYSUT General Counsel Richard Casagrande made the case for tenure in a symposium at the Teachers College of Columbia University in December.

Here's a video and a report on the discussion. Casagrande's presentation starts at the 22:27 mark. His emphasis on students clarifies the real challenge confronting public education: poverty and the state's failure to adequately support all students and teachers in providing what kids need.

Casagrande also notes (via the Teachers College report):

"Tenure doesn't protect bad teachers; it protects good teachers," [Casagrande] said, arguing that the institution of tenure is "essential to attract and retain good teachers" and to protect free expression, including a teacher's ability to stand up for his or her students.

Casagrande argued that this wave of cases is part of a "nationwide attack on workers' rights" and removes the focus from the real impediments to quality education, such as funding cuts that perpetuate school and district-wide inequality.

Allon, and later in the day Mona Davids, the first named plaintiff in the other New York case, emphasized that, as Allon put it, "We are not seeking to abolish tenure, nor deprive teachers of due process."

But Casagrande noted that, in fact, Campbell Brown's group has publicly criticized teacher tenure. "Read the [Wright] complaint," he said. "They're asking to strike down statutes that, if invalidated, would leave teachers without due process protection." Once these rules are invalidated, it would fall to state governments to write new ones, with no guarantee that tenure or other teacher protections would survive.

Meanwhile, other speakers at the conference debated what existing research shows about how much teaching and learning are influenced by such factors as tenure laws and whether the legal system is an appropriate venue to debate the tenure question.

You can read the full report from Teachers College online.

In related news: Opening arguments in the lawsuits brought by two groups to challenge the state's tenure laws are slated for Wednesday, Jan. 14, in Staten Island. NYSUT is an intervener and will present its arguments to the court. Additionally, Campbell Brown and her allies recently launched a social media campaign repeating their lies about tenure, teachers and public education. Educators and parents have been actively using NYSUT's Facebook page and Twitter account to learn more and call them out, using the hashtag #StopTheEduLies.

Learn more about the importance of tenure and due process at