Minnesota Court Hears Teacher Tenure Lawsuit Appeal

On Wednesday, the Star Tribune’s Beena Raghavendran reported that the Minnesota Court of Appeals heard oral arguments for a lawsuit in which a group of parents are challenging the constitutionality of Minnesota’s teacher tenure, dismissal, and “last in, first out” laws. At the center of the lawsuit, which was initially dismissed by a lower court last fall, is the question of whether laws that prioritize teachers’ seniority over effectiveness violate students’ rights to a quality public education. The parents behind the case — as well as education groups like Students for Education Reform-Minnesota (SFER-MN) and Partnership for Educational Justice — believe that the state’s teacher tenure laws are unconstitutional and have asked the Court of Appeals to reverse the lower court’s dismissal.

Jim Swanson, attorney for the parents, argues that the families should be given their day in court and that, according to a previous ruling, students have the right to an adequate education. “If we got rid of these statutes, then the process would work better and we’d have fewer ineffective teachers teaching the kids,” Swanson said after the oral argument.

At Students Matter, we understand the importance of great teachers and believe that every child — regardless of background — deserves to have access to passionate, motivating teachers. Research shows that quality teachers positively impact not only a student’s academic performance, but their lifetime success. As Minnesota courts consider this case — and prepare to hear another lawsuit next fall in which parents claim the state has evaded its obligation to provide an adequate public education for poor and minority students — we hope the state will maintain its responsibility to its students. We must support our students and uphold their right to effective teachers and a quality public education.