The Blog at CTA

Legislature Closes 2013 by Sending Key Measures to Governor

Both houses of the legislature recessed for the year Thursday night, marking the end of the first half of the 2013-2014 session.

Lawmakers sent the governor a number of major measures, including two important CTA-backed ones.

 AB 375, by Assembly Education Chair Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo) and Principal Co-author Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), will streamline the teacher dismissal process while protecting students and safeguarding due process. (Click here for more information about the bill and a speedy way to contact the governor in support of it.)

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Senate Appropriations Approves Streamlined Teacher Dismissal Bill

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Sept. 12 approved AB 375, a CTA-supported bill by Assembly Education Chair Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo) that would streamline the teacher dismissal process while protecting the rights of educators.

The measure, which is co-authored by Sen. Padilla (D-Pacoima), ensures that employees faced with serious accusations have a fair process to clear their name. AB 375 is now headed to the Senate floor, where action is expected by Friday. 

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Senate Education Defeats Two Opposed Measures; Third Moves Over Educators’ Objections

At the urging of educators, the Senate Education Committee  on Wednesday again defeated two measures that would have respectively undermined effective teacher evaluations and undercut educators’ right to a fair hearing on misconduct allegations.  At the same time, despite educators’ objections, the panel approved an opposed measure that would privatize higher education online coursework.

All three bills were slated for “vote only” proceedings, but the author of one, Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello), offered some amendments and testimony aimed at moving his CTA-opposed  SB 441.

Continued objections by representatives of Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, CTA and other employee organizations led Senators to defeat the measure.  That action came despite extraordinary efforts by StudentsFirst – the so-called “education reform” group started by disgraced former Washington D.C. Chancellor Michelle Rhee – which brought dozens of witnesses to the Capitol in hopes of swaying lawmakers.

The defeat of SB 441, a flagship bill for StudentsFirst, is widely viewed as a rebuff to the organization, which has been reported to rely heavily on anti-union groups for funding.  Recent news reports have uncovered the fact StudentsFirst has received millions of dollars from the Walton family, founders of the non-union WalMart superstore chain.

The panel also defeated SB 531, by Sen. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale).  That bill would have rolled back  due-process protections for certificated faculty and eliminated the May 15 deadline for layoff notifications related to reductions in force.  The bill would also have let school boards ignore the rulings of impartial panels reviewing their personnel actions.

The panel’s approval of SB 520, the CTA-opposed higher education measure by Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), sends the online privatization measure to the  Senate Appropriations Committee.

Educators will seek to defeat the bill there.

 

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CTA-Opposed Bills Gain May 1 Revote

CTA-opposed bills defeated in committee last week are up for reconsideration. Senate Education Committee on April 24 gave only four votes to CTA-opposed SB 441 (Calderon) and just two votes to SB 531 (Knight).  Both measures needed five votes to pass out of the committee.  But the authors requested and received permission for a “reconsideration,” which means the measures will come up for another vote in the same Senate Education Committee on May 1.

Generally, reconsideration is granted to an author as a courtesy, but the close 4-4 vote on SB 441 – and the pressure being exerted by Michelle Rhee, the disgraced former chancellor of the Washington D.C. school system, and her StudentsFirst organization -- means educators need to re-double efforts to contact senators to make sure the bill doesn’t get the votes to pass.

While Sen. Knight’s SB 531 garnered fewer votes (only two) last week, educators should remain vigilant.

Teachers and other school supporters are contacting members of Senate Education to make sure the bills do not get out of committee, even on a second try.

Members of the Senate Education Committee are:

Senator Carol Liu (Chair): (916) 651-4025 and (818) 409-0400 Senator Mark Wyland (Vice Chair): (916) 651-4038 and (949) 489-9838 Senator Marty Block: (916) 651-4039 and (619) 645-3133 Senator Lou Correa: (916) 651-4034 and (714) 558-4400 Senator Loni Hancock: (916) 651-4009 and (510) 286-1333 Senator Ben Hueso: (916) 651-4040 and (619) 409-7690 Senator Bob Huff: (916) 651-4029 and (714) 671-9474 Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson: (916) 651-4019 and (805) 965-0862 Senator Bill Monning: (916) 651-4017and (831) 425-0401

Briefly, here’s some information and links for more information about the two bills:

CTA-opposed SB 441 (Calderon) would require all permanent certificated educators to be evaluated every three years against four standards, including student test scores.  The measure fails to address weaknesses in the current evaluation systems and eliminates teachers’ voices in the process by removing evaluations from the scope of collective bargaining.  CTA believes in a comprehensive and effective evaluation system that helps practitioners get even better.  SB 441 fails to pass the test.  For more information, see SB 441 documents at cta.org.

SB 531 (Knight) – This bill would roll back the due-process protections for certificated faculty and eliminate the May 15 deadline for layoff notifications related to reductions in force.  Among its major provisions, the bill would make the outcome of an impartial commission’s investigation of charges simply advisory. That means the district can dismiss a teacher even if an impartial panel has found the charges to be widthout merit.  The measure includes other equally onerous provisions.

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CTA Pres. Vogel Takes on Romero Assertions in OC Register

The Orange County Register published this response from CTA President Dean Vogel to an earlier column by former Sen. Gloria Romero:

Protecting our teachers

DAVIS, Dean Vogel, president, California Teachers Association: Former state Sen. Gloria Romero's column questioning the California Teachers Association's motivations for "suddenly" supporting a new teacher dismissal bill was short on facts and long on inaccurate speculation ["CTA goes Hollywood on teacher dismissal bills," Opinion, April 2]. The CTA wanted to support legislation by Sen. Alex Padilla last year [SB1530], and offered amendments we believed would correct some significant problems width his bill.

Far from jumping late onto any dismissal bandwagon, CTA has led support of efforts to expedite the dismissal process, maintain existing safeguards that remove teachers from classrooms immediately when charged width serious offenses and toughen penalties for districts and school personnel who fail to follow mandated abuse-reporting procedures. These are the facts, despite any claims from paid spokespersons for organizations founded and funded in part by outspoken, school-privatization proponents and hedge-fund managers who see dollar signs in public-school funding.

We are pleased now that Sen. Padilla has teamed width Assembly Member Joan Buchanan to craft just such legislation, AB1338 and AB375, bills that, while not perfect, eliminate the problematic potential for added expense and redundant hearings inherent in the earlier bill. CTA has taken an interim-support position on these new bills and will, in all likelihood, issue our final support later this month, coupled width our insistence that districts must be held accountable for following these laws.

We understand that some so-called "reform" groups will oppose any legislation supported by the teachers' union. So, we applaud California lawmakers who are moving ahead width bills that keep children safe and streamline the process for removing people who don't belong in our classrooms, while still maintaining safeguards against false allegations.

We hope Romero is also supportive of these goals.

Want to know more about CTA's position on teacher evaluation?  It's just a click away.

 

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Assembly Education Unanimously Approves CTA-backed Streamlined Dismissal Bill, Reporting Measure

Two measures that would help protect students against verbal, physical or sexual assaults have cleared the Assembly Education Committee on a 7-0 vote width CTA’s support.

AB 375, by Assembly Education Chair Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo), addresses CTA’s main concerns of keeping students’ safe, safeguarding the integrity of the profession, and protecting educators' rights.

AB 1338, the second CTA-supported measure by the Assembly Education chair, also gained the committee’s approval on a 7-0 vote. It would require districts to implement a rigorous annual notification process so that employees understand their reporting responsibilities relating to abuse allegations.

CTA has been pressing for legislation that would streamline and shorten the dismissal process to ensure that allegations are handled fairly and in a timely manner.

Two weeks ago, Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) announced that he was dropping his CTA-opposed teacher dismissal bill — SB 10 — and signing on as a co-author of the two Buchanan bills.

The Key Messages paper on the bills provides more information about CTA's position. You can also learn more by reading the CTA AB 375 Fact Sheet, the  CTA AB 1338 Fact Sheet, and Assembly Member Buchanan's and Senator Padilla's Joint News Release on the bills.

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Capitol News: CTA Hosts Briefing on Bills to Educate Legislative Staff as Part of Lobbying Efforts

The CTA Legislative Relations Department works width lawmakers on behalf of members on key issues impacting the profession. One way the department carries out its objective is by holding briefings for legislators and legislative staff members on bills and issues identified as needing further explanation.  The briefings also include a Q and A session.

CTA recently hosted a briefing on teacher dismissals facilitated by GLS Attorneys Marianne Reinhold and Michael Rothschild.

Approximately 35 legislative staff members who advise the state Senate and the Assembly were in attendance. The attorneys  told the legislators' staffers that California's criminal and education codes give districts and the state significant power to protect students from verbal, physical and sexual abuse at school and at home.

CTA has been hard at work in the state Capitol urging lawmakers to streamline the dismissal process for educators charged width crimes designated by state codes as "immoral conduct."

CTA plans to host more briefings as the legislative session continues.

 

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Assembly Education Chair Buchanan Introduces Two Bills Aimed at Protecting Children, Speeding Up Dismissals; Senator Padilla Drops His

SB 10, Signs on as Co-author CTA Adopts "Support" Position

Assembly Education Chair Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo) on Tuesday, March 19, introduced two bills designed to streamline the teacher dismissal process and require districts to establish policies on child abuse reporting.

Also on Tuesday, Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) announced that he was dropping his CTA-opposed teacher dismissal bill — SB 10 — and signing on as a co-author of AB 375, the first of the two Buchanan bills.

The action came even as a group of CTA members were in the state Capitol on a lobby day, meeting width their lawmakers in opposition to SB 10.

Among CTA's main concerns are keeping students safe, safeguarding the integrity of the profession, and protecting educators' rights. The association has been pressing for legislation that would streamline and shorten the dismissal process to ensure that allegations are handled fairly and in a timely manner.

The second measure, AB 1338, requires districts to implement policies that fulfill state requirements for reporting abuse allegations and train staff members annually on the policies.

CTA has since taken a support position on both of Buchanan's bills.

CTA commends Assembly Member Buchanan for taking the lead on the two bills addressing these vital matters affecting teachers and their students, and appreciates Sen. Padilla joining the efforts as co-author.

The Key Messages paper on the bills provides more information about CTA's position. You can also learn more by reading the CTA AB 375 Fact Sheet, the  CTA AB 1338 Fact Sheet, and Assembly Member Buchanan's and Senator Padilla's Joint News Release on the bills.

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Capitol News: LA District's Own Misdeeds Spark New Legislation on Misconduct Charges

Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Los Angeles) has introduced a bill that would implement a change recommended in a recent state report that slammed the Los Angeles Unified School District for improperly handling child abuse charges.  Sen. Lara is seeking inter-district communication about a classified employee who has left a district while under investigation of misconduct width a student.

SB 160 is co-authored by Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) and together width Sen. Lara, says they plan to work width labor on the bill. They want to make sure students are safe and no employee becomes "blacklisted" because of unfounded accusations.

Sen. Lara piloted the original legislative panel that authorized the state "performance audit of the district," and he wrote SB 160 to respond to the audit finding that "there is no statewide mechanism to communicate among school districts when a classified employee at any school district separates by dismissal, resignation, or settlement during the course of an investigation involving misconduct width students."

The performance audit also criticized the LAUSD for repeatedly failing to report abuse allegations against certificated personnel. This failure came despite the legal requirement that officials inform the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) about the  allegations.  The CCTC can yank a teacher's credential if charges warrant. Without a credential, an educator can't work in any district in California.

Classified employees, by definition, don't have credentials – so they're not subject to the CCTC's oversight.

CTA does not currently have a position on the bill, but will be monitoring the legislation and working width labor coalition partners.

Read more about the audit entitled Los Angeles Unified School District: It Could Do More to Improve Its Handling of Child Abuse Allegations.

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Now Contact State Assembly to Kill Bad Padilla Teacher Dismissal Bill

Action Alert - Updated 29 May

Over the objections of 325,000 educators, the Senate on Tuesday passed SB 1530 (Padilla), the opposed measure that would implement unfair teacher dismissal procedures.

Educators from around the state have begun contacting their Assembly Members in opposition to the bill. They are delivering a message to these elected officials that is a short and clear one: vote against SB 1530 in the Assembly.

Background:

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted last week 5 -2 to move SB 1530 (Padilla) to consideration by the full Senate.

Earlier that week, over 200 CTA member lobbyists walked the Capitol halls and pressed their two-point message about this teacher discipline bill.  They urged lawmakers to amend the measure or kill it.  Those teacher voices were heard – especially among the legislators who voted against the measure on Thursday.

Senator Curren Price and Senator Ted Lieu voted against SB 1530 because they understood that CTA’s goal is to improve the bill, widthout sacrificing critical protections for educators. The other committee members who voted for the bill, including the committee chair, Senator Chris Kehoe and the Senate President Pro Tem, Senator Darrell Steinberg, believe the continuing conversation will result in a bill CTA can support.

CTA will continue its opposition until the bill is amended so that teacher dismissals are fair. SB 1530 will be heard on the Senate floor during the week of May 28.

All CTA members are being encouraged to call their Senator and ask for a no vote.

Filed May 25 by Len Feldman. Updated May 30 by Len Feldman

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