Education Advocacy Groups Urge New Jersey Supreme Court to Uphold Students’ Constitutional Rights


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Washington, D.C. -- The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) and TNTP submitted an amicus brief today in support of New Jersey students challenging the state's last-in-first-out (LIFO) laws. In the case, HG v. Harrington, the students argue that the state violated their constitutional rights by preventing them access to a thorough and efficient education.

The New Jersey state constitution guarantees "the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of free and public schools for the instruction of all children in the State." However, New Jersey's current LIFO requirements can result in the termination of junior, competent teachers in the event of a reduction in force while more senior, ineffective teachers retain their positions. In addition, LIFO requirements have caused the Newark School District to spend millions of dollars per year on a "pool" of ineffective teachers who do not have classroom placements rather than engage in a reduction of force and lose junior, competent teachers over more senior ineffective teachers.

NCTQ and TNTP, organizations dedicated to improving educator quality, find that there is no in-school factor more crucial for providing a through and efficient education than effective teachers. Abandoning the LIFO requirements would help ensure schools could retain their most effective teachers and that critical education funding is not wasted on ineffective teachers who are not even in the classroom.

"Debates about layoff rules often play out as a false choice between two extremes: keep today's broken policies exactly as they are, or eliminate job protections for teachers entirely," said Daniel Weisberg, CEO of TNTP. "Our brief shows that it's possible to create laws and policies that protect great teachers when layoffs are necessary while still valuing the experience teachers bring to their jobs. New Jersey's kids deserve nothing less."

NCTQ's Managing Director of Teacher Policy Elizabeth Ross explained, "Great teachers help ensure that all students—including and particularly our most vulnerable students—have an opportunity for educational success. New Jersey students are ill-served by requirements that do not require appropriate consideration of teacher effectiveness in decisions about teacher layoffs."

Alissa Bernstein, Executive Director of Partnership for Educational Justice, emphasized what is at stake. "The court filings from advocacy organizations and parents not involved in the lawsuit underscore the critical public importance of the issues raised in HG v. Harrington, and the need for the New Jersey Supreme Court to hear the plaintiffs' appeal," said Bernstein. "Every day that these Newark families are denied their day in court is another day that Newark schoolchildren are denied their constitutional right to a quality education—causing immediate and ongoing harm to children who are depending on the public school system to open the doors of opportunity. We are counting on the court to give these courageous families their day in court."

In the amicus brief, NCTQ provides data from states demonstrating that implementation of lay-off policies that consider teacher effectiveness as measured by classroom performance have not significantly decreased the number of certified teachers in Colorado or Florida. TNTP provides data demonstrating that in Shelby County Schools (TN) and DC Public Schools (DC), school districts with policies that, among other policies, consider teacher effectiveness in layoffs and hiring policies have improved the quality of their teaching force and student achievement.


Nicole Gerber
National Council on Teacher Quality
(202) 393-0020 ext. 712

Maggie McKeon
Partnership for Educational Justice
(315) 730-5101

Andy Jacob
(718) 233-2800


About the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ)
The National Council on Teacher Quality is a nonpartisan research and policy group committed to modernizing the teaching profession and based on the belief that all children deserve effective teachers. We recognize that it is not teachers who bear responsibility for their profession's many challenges, but the institutions with the greatest authority and influence over teachers. More information about NCTQ can be found on our website,

About TNTP
A national nonprofit founded by teachers, TNTP helps school systems end educational inequality and achieve their goals for students. We work at every level of the public education system to attract and train talented teachers and school leaders, ensure rigorous and engaging classrooms, and create environments that prioritize great teaching and accelerate student learning. Since 1997, we've partnered with more than 200 public school districts, charter school networks and state departments of education. We have recruited or trained more than 50,000 teachers, and redefined critical education issues through acclaimed studies like The Widget Effect (2009) and The Mirage (2015). Learn more

About Partnership for Educational Justice (PEJ)
PEJ pursues educational equity through legal action to improve the quality of public schools. PEJ utilizes a variety of legal actions to achieve its mission, including pursuing impact litigation, amicus brief filings, Freedom of Information Act requests, and other law-related avenues that seek to achieve meaningful reforms of education laws or policies that fail to prioritize students' rights. PEJ is an affiliate of the national education nonprofit 50CAN: 50-State Campaign for Achievement Now, which advocates at the local level for a high-quality education for all kids, regardless of their address. Learn more

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