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High Fives All Around: Colorado Union’s Pro-Tenure Lawsuit Shot Down

I had planned to post this good news with you on Monday. But then sickness intervened. Not me, mind you. But the website itself was maliciously attacked, perhaps by someone who doesn’t like what this little kid has to say. Well, better late than never. And more to come soon.

You hang around these big policy wonk people long enough, and sometimes you can be overwhelmed by all the “nuance” and “qualifications” and “ambiguity.” It’s not every day you get to see the guys in the black hats flummoxed, foiled, and defeated, while the guys in the white hats celebrate a clear-cut victory.

Maybe on one of my grandpa’s old cowboy shows, or on one of the silly cartoons my parents watched growing up. But not so often in education news — unless you count late Friday afternoon:

A Denver District Court judge Friday dismissed a lawsuit alleging Denver Public Schools violated portions of the state’s teacher effectiveness law.

A handful of frustrated ineffective teachers, fully backed by their union protectors, failed in their lawsuit to undo a key reform that ensures a principal must agree before accepting a teacher into their school. This “mutual consent” policy means no more “dance of the lemons.”

Writing when the lawsuit was first introduced, State Board of Education chair Paul Lundeen clearly outlined the destructive effects of the union strategy:

If schools can be forced to accept incompatible teachers over principals’ objections, then why even track teacher performance? If teachers cannot be held accountable, then principals, schools, and districts all have an automatic excuse for unsatisfactory results.

The Colorado Education Association sued to try to enshrine teacher tenure rights in the state constitution. I’ve pointed it out before: among so many other problems, union leaders’ approach on this issue also happens to be wildly unpopular.

Two strands of the CEA strategy have folded, barely more than four months since they were introduced. At first, union-backed HB 1269 was withdrawn at the sponsor’s request — when so little support for dismantling the reform could be found in the State Capitol.

Now, the lawsuit is crushed by a Denver judge’s 14-page “order of dismissal.” Of course, union leaders fully can be expected to file an appeal and drag on their case. They’ve promised as much.

But last Friday brought a big victory for a broad supporting coalition. From students in the neediest classrooms to effective teachers, caring and competent principals, parents, businesses, taxpayers, and the state of Colorado as a whole, all of us in the white hats can take a moment to smile in appreciation of a clear-cut victory for kids!