Edvoice - Issues

Time for state's leaders to tackle teacher tenure

April 25 | Union Tribune San Diego

By Shirley Weber

Nearly a year ago, a state Superior Court ruled in favor of nine students who brought a suit against California for violating their constitutional right to a quality education. The testimony of the students from racially and economically diverse backgrounds who brought the case laid bare our troubled and inequitable educational system, a system that continues to allow teachers to flounder and students to fail.

The case is now on appeal, but whatever the outcome, parents and students have made it clear that the status quo will no longer be tolerated. Student achievement, wherever they live and whatever their background, must become central to the conversation.

Candor, courage needed on teacher tenure

April 25 | Union Tribune San Diego

In June of last year, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu found that six California laws providing teachers with extensive job protections were unconstitutional violations of the equal protection rights of minority children. He noted that the vast majority of teachers won lifetime tenure protection after just 18 months on the job. Treu cited evidence showing these laws made it all but impossible to fire bad teachers, and that school districts had a record of putting the least competent teachers in schools in the poorest communities. The judge wrote that the negative effect this has on the mostly Latino and African-American students in these schools “shocks the conscience.”

...10 months later, in the state capital and in school districts across California, it’s as if the Treu ruling never happened.

Push to overhaul teacher evaluations

April 18 | San Diego Union Tribune

By Maureen Magee

With teacher employment rules high on the public agenda, a flurry of new bills has been introduced to the Legislature that would change how California educators are hired, fired and evaluated — even as a landmark legal dispute on the matter hangs in the balance.

Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, has been concerned about teacher tenure and evaluations since her days on the San Diego school board.

“I was consistently told you cannot evaluate a teacher based on student performance — it was gospel. And then I found out the Stull Act required it, but that no one did it,” Weber said. “For a teacher, to be judged ‘in need of improvement’ in their mind is the kiss of death. I want to get at that because to be in need of improvement is to be human.”

With AB 1495, Weber’s bill would add a third teacher rating of “needs improvement” to the state’s minimum requirement for evaluations. It would also call on districts to put teachers who are not rated fully satisfactory first in line for professional coaching, and eliminate provisions that put them at risk of dismissal or other adverse actions.

Brown names two to State Board of Education

April 9 | EdSource

By John Fensterwald

Gov. Jerry Brown nominated a senior administrator of the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights organization and an executive director of one of the state’s oldest charter schools on Friday to fill the last two openings on the 11-member State Board of Education.

Majority of California's Latino voters highly value school testing

April 12 | LA Times

By Zahira Torres

Latino voters consider California's standardized tests an important measure of student growth and school performance, according to a new poll that shows the state's largest minority group also feels strongly about teacher accountability and investing additional dollars in public education.

A majority of Latino voters, 55%, said mandatory exams improve public education in the state by gauging student progress and providing teachers with vital information. Nearly the same percentage of white voters said such exams are harmful because they force educators to narrow instruction and don't account for different styles of learning.

Poll California voters take a dim view of teacher tenure

April 11 | LA Times

By Howard Blume

Gisela Aviles is a 49-year-old real estate agent in Corona. Henry Yoshikawa is a 71-year-old former administrator for a tiny school district in Placer County. And Arianna Rivera is a 23-year-old bank teller in East Los Angeles.

Although strikingly different, they are among an overwhelming majority of California voters who shared remarkably similar views about teachers in a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll. They agree that teachers receive tenure much too quickly. And they believe that performance should matter more than seniority when teachers are laid off.

They also favor making it easier to fire instructors — although, at the same time, they think highly of teachers and want more resources for public schools that serve disadvantaged children.

Group threatens suit over SUSD contract

April 10 | Recordnet

By Elizabeth Roberts

The group [EdVoice] behind a landmark lawsuit that changed the way teachers are evaluated in Los Angeles is warning Stockton Unified officials it will sue the district if a tentative contract deal reached last week does not factor student progress into teacher evaluations.


LAUSD officials must revise how space is allotted to charter schools

April 9 | LA Times

By Maura Dolan

The California Supreme Court unanimously decided Thursday that the Los Angeles school district's method for allocating space to charter schools may shortchange them classrooms.

In a decision written by Justice Goodwin Liu, the state’s highest court said the L.A. Unified School District’s formula may “undercount” the number of classrooms that charter schools are entitled to and should be replaced with a different method.

Low bidder says California will overpay testing contractor

April 6 | The Sacramento Bee

By Christopher Cadelago

California education officials relied on three paper slips and a box to help determine who would win a nearly quarter-billion-dollar contract to overhaul the state’s system of testing students.

The apparent loser, however, says it was anything but fair. Pearson School questions whether it was put through an elaborate charade designed to pick the state’s current testing vendor, Educational Testing Service. Pearson representatives want the job rebid and are threatening a lawsuit.

Opinion: Jerry Brown's school overhaul under increasing fire

March 30 | The Sacramento Bee

By Dan Walters

Gov. Jerry Brown’s historic overhaul of school finances is still very much a work in progress, and resistance to how it’s being implemented appears to be building.