The Minnesota Court of Appeals is weighing a request from a group of parents who want the state’s teacher tenure laws struck down, after hearing arguments from both sides Wednesday morning in Saint Paul. Plaintiffs’ attorney Jim Swanson argues those statutes interfere with the constitutional right of an adequate education for all students. Swanson says, “These laws, which result in the retention of teachers who aren’t doing a very good job — actually doing a poor job — need to be stricken from the books on the basis that they’re unconstitutional.” Denise Specht, head of the Education Minnesota teachers union, says current laws “don’t prevent bad teachers from getting fired. They prevent good teachers from being fired for bad reasons.” The group of parents is appealing after a district court judge dismissed their lawsuit last fall.
Although not directly related to this case, changes in teacher licensing laws is one issue in Governor Mark Dayton’s court battle with Republicans after he vetoed operating funds for the legislature.