FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
HAYWARD – The current and former State Superintendents of Public Instruction, Jack O'Connell and Delaine Eastin, today joined other education experts in warning that the governor's flawed Proposition 74 will hurt public schools and students and make it harder to attract quality teachers to California classrooms.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell denounces Prop. 74 at Hayward rally.
"Many education experts agree that Proposition 74 does nothing to address the real issues facing our children and classrooms," O'Connell said at a news conference. "Instead, it scapegoats our hard-working public school teachers and does nothing to reduce class sizes, provide more training for teachers or increase funding for even one new textbook."
California is facing a teacher shortage and will need at least 100,000 new teachers in the next 10 years, said Eastin, citing a report by the nonpartisan Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning in Santa Cruz.
"With his Prop. 74, the governor has done about the worst thing a politician could do to drive people away from the teaching profession at a critical time," Eastin said. "Wake up, governor. California has a teacher shortage, not a teacher surplus. You should be thinking about how we can attract people to this most important profession, instead of offering hamhanded, thoughtless actions that will drive people away from our classrooms."
Only Missouri has the kind of five-year probation period that Prop. 74 would create in California, and Missouri schools are suffering under that excessive probation law enacted in 1970, said Alameda County Superintendent of Schools Sheila Jordan. She said a recent state report on the recruitment and retention of teachers in the struggling Missouri public schools found several troubling developments that do not bode well for California:
• There is a dramatic and growing increase in Missouri teacher turnover, with a sharp increase in the number of teachers who leave the profession after only one to five years on the job.
• There are Missouri teacher shortages in several subject areas, including special education, science and math.
• The number of minority teachers has declined, despite an increase in minority students.
"California's teachers and students deserve better than what Missouri is experiencing," Jordan said. "Prop. 74 disregards real, proven reforms like teacher mentoring and peer assistance programs. It's bad for our schools, our teachers and our students."
There is no proof that extending probation periods ensures teacher quality, according to a recent analysis of Prop. 74 by a nonpartisan research group at the University of Southern California, the USC California Policy Institute. The study shows the link between teacher quality and student achievement, but also found that there is no research to prove that the major provisions of Proposition 74 will improve teacher quality, said Bernard Gifford, a professor of education at UC-Berkeley and former dean of that university's graduate school of education.
Delaine Eastin, former Superintendent of Public Instruction, joins O'Connell at gathering in Hayward.
"How is Prop. 74 real reform in any sense of the word?" Gifford asked. "In my mind, it is a simple-minded attempt to improve our teaching workface that would be a disaster for the profession. Good teaching comes from things like good mentoring, training and support – not from the punitive model used in this flawed initiative."
Two California State University educators involved in training future K-12 teachers warned that they are already seeing a drop in the number of people wanting to become educators. In a 2004 report, the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning noted that participation in teacher credential programs in the CSU system – the state's largest producer of teachers – declined by nearly 1,900 people from the previous year.
"My students have to jump through so many hoops now to become teachers that I think Prop. 74 could be the last straw," said Linda Smetana, an associate professor of education at the CSU-East Bay campus in Hayward.
"My students, my teacher credential candidates, are working so hard to meet all of their course requirements and then would have to look forward to being on probation for five long years under Prop. 74. That's a long time not to have any due process rights to protect you in the classroom. My strong fear is that even more people will just decide to abandon teaching as a career."
In San Diego County, John Halcón, a professor of education at CSU-San Marcos, is hearing the same concerns from university students and young teachers on probation who would face more needless years of probation under Prop. 74.
"The governor is doing a terrible disservice to the public by going around the state saying teachers have a job for life when all they really have is due process rights after they pass a rigorous two-year probation period," Halcón said. "I train teachers. When my students quit my classroom, they will never make it into our public school classrooms where they're so badly needed. Prop. 74 would only drive them out the door."
The CTA is affiliated with the 2.7 million-member National Education Association.