FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SACRAMENTO - The Association of California School Administrators, California School Boards Association, California Federation of Teachers, and California Teachers Association today denounced the so-called Excellence in Teaching Act as a fatally-flawed scheme. The groups pointed out that the hastily-drafted initiative now being circulated by the governor will do nothing to improve public education and will, in fact, eliminate rules currently in place to guard California classrooms against unprofessional and criminal conduct.
This flawed initiative replaces the current system for removing certificated employees guilty of unprofessional or criminal conduct with an unworkable process without clear guidelines for employee dismissals. ACSA, CSBA, CFT and CTA representatives agree that this is just one of the initiative's flawed and unworkable provisions.
"The future of our students and our state as a whole depend upon sound, positive improvements in education policy. Throwing the fate of our education system to the ballot box without adequate legislative review and discourse is simply bad policy," said Bob Wells, Executive Director of the 15,500-member Association of California School Administrators.
The groups point to the Title and Summary of the initiative released by the Attorney General, which concludes that the "School Employment Decisions. Employee Performance" initiative "Supersedes other, existing reasons authorizing teachers' dismissal" and replaces them with a system where decisions are "to be based solely on employee performance and needs of the district and pupils…" This eliminates reasons for dismissal based upon criminal and unprofessional conduct, substance abuse, and many other reasons currently listed in the state Education Code.
"This is the kind of thing that happens when the initiative process is used to leverage or bypass the legislative process in the development of public policy," said Scott Plotkin, Executive Director of the California School Boards Association. "It is obvious that whoever wrote this initiative doesn't know anything about school law, and in the pursuit of an overtly political agenda, didn't do their homework."
Barbara E. Kerr, president of the 335,000-member California Teachers Association, concurred. "Mouthing slogans is one thing. But creating public policy that will actually improve public schools is another. It is clear that the intent here was not to improve the quality of teaching, but rather to distract attention away from the Governor's failure to provide schools with the resources that are needed to attract and keep the best teachers."
"This initiative was rushed into the hands of paid petition circulators without careful thought or review as part of a broad political attack on public schools, teachers and education funding," said Mary Bergan, president of the California Federation of Teachers, representing over 100,000 educators and school employees. "The measure is half-baked and fatally-flawed. It will do nothing to attract, retain or fairly compensate the teachers we need. It should be taken off the streets before it can cause damage to our schools."