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Legislative Wins for Students and Teachers


Bad Evaluation Bill Defeated, Win for Students and Teachers

Two CTA-opposed bills that would have silenced teachers' voices on discipline, dismissal and evaluation processes were killed in committee, May 1. Thanks to the many members who took part in a lobby day and visited lawmakers in the Capitol, as well as your phone calls, emails and letters to members of the Senate Education Committee, they refused to approve SB 441, by Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello), and SB 531, by Sen. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale).

The committee did pass SB 520, the CTA-opposed bill by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), but only after amending it to meet some of educators' concerns.

Calderon attempted to offer several amendments, but none of them addressed the true problems with the bill. Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson spoke against the bills, as they failed to improve the evaluation process or enhance the teaching profession. Each bill needed five votes to clear the nine-member panel.

The votes were a defeat for Michelle Rhee and her StudentsFirst organization, which support evaluating teachers based on student test scores and oppose collective bargaining for educators.

A closer look at the vote on the bills:

SB 441 (Calderon) on a 3-0 vote.  Only Senators Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana), Bob Huff (R-Arcadia), and Mark Wyland (R-Carlsbad) voted for the measure.  SB 441 would require all permanent certificated educators to be evaluated every three years using four rigid standards, including student test scores.  The measure fails to address weaknesses in the current evaluation systems and would eliminate 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  to strengthen the knowledge, skills and practices of teachers to improve student learning.

SB 531 (Knight) on a 2-0 vote, with only Senators Huff and Wyland voting yes. This bill would roll back due process protections for educators and eliminate the May 15 deadline for layoff notifications. The bill also would make the outcome of an impartial commission's investigation of charges simply advisory. That means the district could dismiss a teacher even if the impartial panel found the charges to be without merit.

SB 520 (Steinberg) on a 5-0 vote. This bill would empower private corporations to provide online courses to college students, courses that should be offered by state higher education entities and taught by qualified faculty. The bill is expected to be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Judiciary Panel Approves CTA-backed Teacher Dismissal Streamline Bill
AB 375 (Buchanan) Now Moves to Assembly Appropriations

In a major victory for students and educators, the Assembly Judiciary Committee gave its overwhelming approval to CTA-supported AB 375. With a 7-1 vote, the measure by Assembly Education Chair Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo) now moves to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

AB 375 aims to keep students safe, safeguard the integrity of the profession, and protect educators' rights.

The bill would streamline the dismissal process and speed up districts' investigations of allegations that an educator engaged in verbal, physical, or sexual abuse of a student.

Every child deserves a chance to learn and no child succeeds alone.

© 1999- California Teachers Association