Edvoice - Issues

S.F. school board drops seniority in layoffs

March 1 | The San Francisco Chronicle

By Jill Tucker

Teacher Kathleen Florita recited from memory a note she received from a student at San Francisco's historically low-performing Everett Middle School.

"Please don't leave like everyone else does," wrote the student.

Florita would have been among the first to get a pink slip this year in what has become an annual ritual of teacher layoffs based on her low seniority.

It appears not this year.

The San Francisco school board set aside seniority rights Tuesday night to save the jobs of 70 low-seniority teachers in 14 low-performing schools. Many of the teachers were brought in just last year to help improve the schools.

The board's decision, on a 5-1 vote, would protect teachers in those schools - even those without seniority - when the district issues layoff notices in March. State law requires that the final decision to deviate from seniority in the layoff process be left to an administrative law judge.

Gov. Jerry Brown changes route, restores bus money next year

February 15 | Capitol Alert

By Kevin Yamamura

Gov. Jerry Brown reversed course this week by restoring $496 million in school bus money in his budget proposal for next fiscal year after facing criticism from education groups.

The decision comes after the governor signed legislation Friday that restored bus funding for the remainder of the current school year after districts lost that money in December's midyear cuts. Brown quietly issued a new education budget plan this week ahead of a Thursday state Senate hearing.

Brown's reversal in 2012-13 comes with some caveats. First, it relies on voters approving his plan to raise income taxes on the wealthy earners, as well as sales taxes by a half cent. It allows districts to spend their bus money on other purposes. And the governor intends to eliminate school transportation earmarks in 2013-14, though districts may receive funding in a new form allowing them to maintain bus service.

Teachers want moratorium on layoffs and a new evaluation system

February 11 | The Los Angeles Times

By Howard Blume

Los Angeles teachers have approved a much-watched initiative that calls for a moratorium on layoffs as well as a new teacher-evaluation system.

Organizers of the initiative, which passed with 56% of the vote, immediately hailed the results as suggesting that teachers were willing to accept student test scores as part of a new evaluation system.

"Teachers will now take the lead on ending the destructive cycle of layoffs and developing a rigorous evaluation system based on multiple measures, including the careful use of student test data," according to statement released Saturday by the group Teachers for a New Unionism.

Left behind: 10 states fleeing education law

February 9 | The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama on Thursday declared that 10 states are free from the No Child Left Behind law, allowing them to scrap some of the most rigorous and unpopular mandates in American education. In exchange, the states are promising higher standards and more creative ways to measure what students are learning.

"We can combine greater freedom with greater accountability," Obama said from the White House. Plenty more states are bound to take up him up on the offer.

Digital Learning Day

January 31 | Foundation for Excellence in Education

Wednesday, February 1, 2012, will be the first ever National Digital Learning Day. On this day, teachers, students, parents and supporters will be participating in a nationwide campaign to celebrate effective teachers, policies and practices that empower each and every student to receive a customized education. Through digital learning every student has access to an education path, pace, place that best fits their learning style.

The video below details how the power of digital learning has transformed the lives of students. Please join in celebrating Digital Learning Day. Feel free to share this video to spread the message of Digital Learning, "It's time to take action to ensure every student experiences personalized learning with great teaching."

How to grade a teacher

January 29 | Los Angeles Times

United Teachers Los Angeles and the school district should get behind a teacher-led evaluation system.

By James Encinas, Kyle Hunsberger and Michael Stryer

We're teachers who believe that teacher evaluation, including the use of reliable test data, can be good for students and for teachers. Yes, yes, we know we're not supposed to exist. But we do, and there are a lot more of us.

In February the membership of United Teachers Los Angeles will vote on a teacher-led initiative urging union leaders to negotiate a new teacher evaluation system for L.A. Unified. The vote will allow teachers' voices to be heard above the din of warring political figures.

Although LAUSD and UTLA reached a contract agreement in December that embraced important school reforms, they haven't yet addressed teacher evaluation. Good teaching is enormously complex, and no evaluation system will capture it perfectly. But a substantive teacher-led evaluation system will be far better for students and teachers than what we have now, a system in which virtually all teachers receive merely "satisfactory" ratings from administrators.

A 40-Year Shame

January 19 | City Journal

A lawsuit against Los Angeles Unified School District could shake up how California evaluates teachers.

By Larry Sand

For nearly 40 years, the Los Angeles Unified School District has broken the law--and nobody seemed to notice. Now a group of parents and students are taking the district to court. On November 1, a half-dozen anonymous families working with EdVoice, a reform advocacy group in Sacramento, filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against the LAUSD, district superintendent John Deasy, and United Teachers Los Angeles.

L.A. teachers union drops legal challenge to evaluation system

December 2 | The Los Angeles Times

By Howard Blume

The union for Los Angeles teachers has suspended its legal challenge to a pilot evaluation program that includes using standardized test scores as part of a teacher's performance review. The union also reserved the right to reactivate the case should talks with the district sour.

A joint statement released by L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy and United Teachers Los Angeles President Warren Fletcher said the two sides agree that current teacher evaluation procedures need improvement.

LAUSD reform from the inside out

November 29 | The Los Angeles Times

LAUSD needs its teachers' and principals' innovations. Unions, are you listening?

By Tamar Galatzan

Our school system is fracturing. While the Los Angeles Unified School District and its bargaining partners, the unions, endlessly debate how best to fix the system, parents and students are walking away from LAUSD.

I know because I'm not only a member of the school board, I'm the mother of two elementary school students in the district.

Traditional, district-run schools are seen as bureaucratic, handcuffed by red tape, and a growing number of parents are choosing charter schools instead. There are now nearly 200 charter and affiliated-charter schools in Los Angeles serving nearly 100,000 students. These are public schools run by private organizations, with more autonomy than traditional schools. The assumption is that, except for the hard-to-get-into magnets or the highest-performing neighborhood schools, the best way to get a good education in L.A. is to head for classrooms dedicated to reform. Not surprisingly, a recent USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll showed 52% of respondents had a favorable opinion of charters, while only 24% considered traditional schools effective.

Understanding the 'why'behind teacher evaluations is critical to their success

November 27 | Top-Ed

By Judy Burton

A poll released last week by USC and the LA Times tells us that the public approves of measuring teacher effectiveness through a combination of indicators including the academic growth of their students. The U.S. Department of Education has made measuring and improving teaching effectiveness a fundamental component of its reform efforts and requires it for many of its grant recipients. In California, Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes has introduced AB 5, legislation requiring school districts to use multiple measures to determine teaching effectiveness, and a group of education reform advocates is suing LAUSD to require the district to develop meaningful evaluations of teacher effectiveness.

The College-Ready Promise (TCRP), a coalition of four of California's highest performing charter schools (Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, Aspire Public Schools, Green Dot Public Schools, and Partnership to Uplift Communities), has spent 18 months designing California's largest teacher development system that incorporates multiple measures of effectiveness, including student growth data. This year, our 85 schools, with more than 1,600 teachers and 35,000 students, are implementing many of the system's components.