FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sacramento – Today a panel of education experts held a background briefing to debunk the myths surrounding teacher tenure and to explain how Proposition 74 will drive teachers out of the profession and hurt public schools and students in California.
"Proposition 74 is a smokescreen," said Sheila Jordan, Alameda County Superintendent of Schools. "It scapegoats teachers for failing schools, when, in fact, the real cause is under-funding and lack of resources for education in California."
Prop 74 does nothing to address the real problems in California's schools, or to implement proven reforms like reducing class sizes, providing students with updated textbooks and materials, or giving teachers the training they need.
The Prop 74 campaign has also worked to mislead voters about what rights teachers have once they complete their two-year probationary period. Currently, teachers only have the right to "due process," or the right to a hearing, before they are fired. Prop 74 would deny that right to teachers during their first five years of teaching.
"Teacher tenure is a myth," said CTA consultant Sharon Scott Dow. "California teachers only have basic due process rights so they aren't fired for arbitrary reasons like speaking out on behalf of textbooks for their students. Proposition 74 just adds millions in costs to the current evaluation system and does absolutely nothing to improve education or help students."
Under current law, teachers can be fired at any time for a number of reasons, including unprofessional conduct or unsatisfactory performance in the classroom.
"There are programs that do work to mentor, encourage and weed out struggling teachers," said Mike Weimer, Legislative Advocate for the California Federation of Teachers. "Prop. 74 ignores those positive solutions. Supporting beginning teachers and having our best teachers review and assist teachers having trouble are proven ways to improve teacher performance. But Governor Schwarzenegger has drastically cut those programs -- 70% over the past few years. Prop. 74 would make teachers more likely to leave the classroom in greater numbers, resulting in a constant influx of new teachers, and instruction for school students."
The California School Boards Association has said they oppose Prop 74 because it will "impose new unreimbursable costs, add to and complicate collective bargaining, create an environment for more grievances and take away districts' ability to define unsatisfactory performance for themselves."
"We already have a teacher shortage in California and Proposition 74 will drive even more of them away," said Student CTA President Monica Masino. "Five years of university training and then five years of probation on top of that is an unreasonable expectation for young people who might be better served going into professions that are more respectful of their training and ability, and pay better salaries."
Sharon Scott Dow – Legislative Advocate, California Teachers Association
Mike Weimer – Legislative Advocate, California Federation of Teachers
Sheila Jordan – Superintendent, Alameda County
Monica Masino – President of Student CTA
Stephanie Floyd-Smith – Teacher, San Juan Unified School District
(Beverly Tucker – Legal Counsel, California Teachers Association, available for technical questions)