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School reformers look to courts to block union power

LA School Report | March 16, 2015

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By Stephanie Simon | Politico

Education reformers stymied by teachers unions and liberal state legislatures increasingly are turning to the courts to get their way on everything from funding charter schools to making it easier to fire teachers.

It’s an end-run strategy championed by Republican and Democratic reformers alike: When they find it hard to change policies through the political process, they reframe the issues as civil rights crusades and take them to the courts.

The tactic proved successful last year in the landmark Vergara v. California decision, in which a California judge struck down the state’s teacher tenure system, ruling that it protected incompetent educators and violated the constitutional rights of children stuck in dead-end classrooms. A similar case is making its way through the courts in New York; on Thursday, a state Supreme Court judge ruled a trial could go forward, saying that he “will not close the courthouse door to parents and children with viable constitutional claims.”

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