Originally Posted by The Denver Post on June 18, 2014. Copyright © denverpost.com. Written by Bob Deibel and Terrance Carroll. Read here.
Colorado’s students (and our state) won a major victory in the Denver District Court earlier this month when Judge Michael A. Martinez dismissed a lawsuit brought by five former teachers, the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, and the Colorado Education Association.
The lawsuit alleged that Denver Public Schools violated the teachers’ constitutional rights by implementing the new mutual consent hiring policy contained in the Great Teachers and Leaders Law, also known as Senate Bill 191. In effect, the plaintiffs argued that teachers have contractual and property rights to lifetime employment.
The Great Teachers and Leaders law passed with significant bipartisan support in 2010; it was backed by numerous policymakers, business, and civic leaders for its commonsense approach to ensuring an effective teacher is at the front of every Colorado classroom. Judge Martinez’s decision is a big win for those who want to make sure every student has access to a quality teacher. The residual benefits start to multiply from there. Better teachers and better-prepared students mean a better economy and a better quality of life.
For the teachers union, this is strike three. After losing the first legislative battle in 2010, the union brought forth another bill earlier this year that — like the lawsuit tossed by Judge Martinez — sought to attack the mutual consent provisions in the Great Teachers and Leaders law. The Democrat-sponsored bill couldn’t gain traction and failed to make it out of the first committee, signaling the utter lack of political support for their position.
Now too, the court independently has upheld the common-sense notion that teachers and principals should decide whether a teacher belongs in the classroom, without the need for a trial.
Unfortunately, CEA has vowed to appeal, seeking a fourth bite at the apple. In doing so, they will waste even more taxpayer money to fight for the right to force ineffective teachers into classrooms; a position parents, policymakers, courts, and the public clearly reject. This is ironic in a year when the union fought at the State Capitol for more funding for schools — now turning around and wastefully spending those same dollars on a frivolous lawsuit.
If the union’s appeal prevails, it will mean that teachers will be forced into classrooms, regardless of effectiveness or fit. Alternatively, it will force districts to continue to pay teachers who stay home and do not teach. Neither is acceptable.
Parents who entrust their children in Colorado’s public schools, educators who put students’ needs first, and employers who need well-educated students as future workers and consumers understand the monumental importance of getting this right. That’s why the Great Teachers and Leaders Act must be upheld and protected. It empowers school leaders to make decisions that are in the best interests of their students and provides the critically important ability to manage teachers in their building.
This is a bipartisan call for the plaintiffs to drop this needless lawsuit and accept the clear decisions made by our democratic and judicial processes. We urge them, instead, to spend their time, energy, and the taxpayer’s dollars to support this positive step forward to improve educational outcomes for the state’s students. Judge Martinez’s decision was a win for kids and a win for Colorado.
Bob Deibel is president and owner of OfficeScapes and Terrance Carroll is Colorado’s former speaker of the House.