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United Federation Of Teachers Seeks To Fight Lawsuit Against Teacher Tenure

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The United Federation of Teachers on Tuesday asked to become a defendant in a New York City lawsuit challenging job protections for teachers.

The UFT filed a motion Tuesday seeking to intervene in the lawsuit that claims teacher tenure rules violate children's right to a good education.

The lawsuit was filed earlier this month on Staten Island by leaders of the New York City Parents Union. It names city and state education officials as defendants.

If the UFT motion is granted, the union will become an additional party to the case.

Mona Davids of the Parents Union told CBS 2 last month that a variety of groups have banded together to file a suit similar to the so-called "Vergara" suit in California, CBS 2's Marcia Kramer reported at the time. The judge in that case tossed out tenure protection rules saying tenure protects teachers at the expense of students.

"The most unsatisfactory-rated teachers, the most 'U'-rated teachers, are found in minority neighborhoods and we need to look at that because if we have almost 80 percent of minority kids not reading, writing and doing math at grade level that's a problem. Maybe it's the quality of the teachers," Davids said last month.

In response, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said the case "stoops to pitting students against their teachers."

The UFT said the job protections targeted by the lawsuit protect teachers from being fired arbitrarily.

Mayor Bill de Blasio last month defended the tenure system.

"The tenure system, done right, is a valuable piece of the way we educate because what it's going to allow us to do is get quality teachers, get them to stay in our school system," the mayor said last month.

Despite supporting tenure, the mayor did concede that the city needs a tough teacher evaluation system because, "every profession has individuals who start down the road and just should not continue."

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