Friday, August 19, 2022

Thousands of Black and Latino Teachers Awarded Over $800 Million in a Decade-long Lawsuit in New York City

In New York City, thousands of Black and Latino former teachers are likely to be awarded over a billion dollars from the city after a decade-long discrimination lawsuit from a biased licensing test.

Since 1995, over 4,700 teachers have been demoted or fired due to failure to pass a state licensing teaching exam. Today, over 800 million dollars has been awarded to over half the group of former teachers.

The Liberal Arts and Science Test for teaching license started in 1994, and in 1996, teachers sued state agencies in NYC because the test’s use was discriminatory. For example, white teachers passed the test at a higher rate than Black or Latino teachers. It is said that over 90% of white teachers passed, while less than 62% of Black teachers and 55% of Latino teachers passed the test.

In 2012, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act was found to be violated by the state licensing teaching test. Sylvia Alvarez, a former NYC teacher, is now collecting payments for the discrimination shown to her throughout her time as a teacher–failure to pass the tests multiple times, under-paid teaching jobs, and eventually, the separation of her family due to the lack of funds. When she heard of the lawsuit, she was very relieved to hear the test was part of the problem she faced.

“It gave me back my life,” Alvarez said. “It gave me that sense of release that I wasn’t failing.”

Over the years, 2 million dollars have been paid out to the teachers of the lawsuit. Alvarez believes this is money that she could have made throughout her career if not for the test.

The career paths of other teachers after the settlement vary from substitute teachers, teaching jobs outside of the state, or leaving the profession altogether.

Theodore Regis, a teacher who won over 1 million dollars in the suit says, “It was worth it for us to fight discrimination,” He is now a teacher in North Carolina

The Wall Street Journal