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Event Summary

Many claim that teachers are the most important school-based factor in determining student success, but current teacher tenure laws may be inhibiting students from accessing effective teachers. On Thursday, former news reporter Campbell Brown presented remarks at AEI and joined AEI’s Frederick M. Hess in a conversation about teacher tenure and her current endeavor to reform tenure laws in New York.

As the founder of the Partnership for Educational Justice, Brown is currently helping eight families with a lawsuit that challenges tenure, disciplinary, and seniority laws, claiming that these laws prevent students from accessing their state constitutional right of a “sound and basic education.” She characterized this argument for tenure reform as basic common sense and clarified that the lawsuit is “not intended to erode due process, but rather to focus on due progress.”

By using the courts to facilitate removing ineffective teachers, Brown said, we can ensure that all students have access to quality ones. Although she acknowledged that tenure reform is not a magic bullet to fixing America’s schools and that courts should be a last resort in seeking change, she cited tenure reform as one practical step in reforming the system.

–Sarah DuPre

Event Description

Teacher tenure has long been a contentious issue in K–12 education, with many in the reform community lamenting how teacher tenure can complicate the process of removing ineffective teachers. This summer’s landmark Vergara v. California ruling, which overturned teacher tenure in California, suggested that turning to the courts might be a viable path to tenure reform.

In the wake of the Vergara ruling, Campbell Brown, founder of the Partnership for Educational Justice and former CNN news anchor, helped organize a similar tenure lawsuit in New York State. We welcome you to join us as Brown shares her perspective on the role of the courts in seeking educational justice and advocating for continued reform.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.


8:45 AM

9:00 AM
Opening Remarks:
Frederick M. Hess, AEI

9:05 AM
Keynote Address:
Campbell Brown, Partnership for Educational Justice

9:25 AM
Campbell Brown, Partnership for Educational Justice
Frederick M. Hess, AEI

10:15 AM

10:30 AM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Sarah DuPre at [email protected], 202.862.7160.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829.

Speaker Biographies

Campbell Brown is an award-winning journalist and public education advocate who has spent much of her career covering stories around the globe for NBC News and hosting her own program on CNN. Brown has written about education and other issues for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Daily Beast, Slate, and other publications. Through her writing and reporting on the state of US public schools, Brown became a passionate advocate for school choice and education reform. Earlier this year, she founded the Partnership for Educational Justice (PEJ), which supports parents who are taking action to improve public schools, challenging teacher tenure and special dismissal protections that make it almost impossible to remove grossly ineffective and even abusive teachers from the classroom. PEJ is supporting eight families who are suing the state of New York, challenging these laws on constitutional grounds. Brown is also the founder of the Parents’ Transparency Project, a watchdog group that investigates and reports on failure and inequity in the public education system. In addition, she serves on the boards of Success Academy Charter Schools and the Jewish Community Project, a preschool and community center in lower Manhattan.

Frederick M. Hess
is resident scholar and director of education policy studies at AEI. An educator, political scientist, and author, Hess studies a range of K–12 and higher education issues. He pens the Education Week blog Rick Hess Straight Up and has authored influential books on education including “Cage-Busting Leadership” (Harvard Education Press, 2013), “The Same Thing Over and Over” (Harvard University Press, 2010), “Education Unbound” (ASCD, 2010), “Common Sense School Reform” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), “Revolution at the Margins” (Brookings Institution Press, 2002), and “Spinning Wheels” (Brookings Institution Press, 1998). He has edited widely cited volumes on education philanthropy, urban school reform, how to stretch the school dollar, education entrepreneurship, what we have learned about the federal role in education reform, and No Child Left Behind. He also serves as executive editor of Education Next; as lead faculty member for the Rice Education Entrepreneurship Program; on the Review Board for the Broad Prize in Urban Education; and on the boards of directors of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, 4.0 Schools, and the American Board for the Certification of Teaching Excellence. A former high-school social studies teacher, Hess has taught at the University of Virginia, the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, Rice University, and Harvard University.

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