The Blog at CTA

Stockton Teachers Prepare to Vote on Tentative Contract with 12.5% Increase, New Duties

(Photo above) Hundreds of members of the Stockton Teachers Association give their bargaining team, their organizing team, their executive team, and their staff team a standing ovation for the combined efforts that led to a tentative agreement including a multi-year 12.5% compensation increase, more time for collaboration with each other and parents, and individualized student instruction.


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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

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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Educators Urge Senate Education Committee to Reject SB 441 (Calderon)

Teacher-Opposed "Evaluation" Measure Would Undermine Educational Excellence Efforts

Educators are getting in touch width members of The Senate Education Committee to urge them to defeat a poorly conceived teacher evaluation bill on Wednesday, April 24.

Unlike a teacher-backed comprehensive approach that is needed to support teachers and improve student learning, SB 441 by Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello) undermines the usefulness of an evaluation system by focusing on just four unproven measures of performance that the bill’s backers “assume” will boost teacher effectiveness.

By focusing on student test scores, the bill fails to  provide a comprehensive look at curriculum or student achievement and ignores the professional performance of teachers. The bill requires student test scores to be included in teacher evaluations—even if the data is unreliable or faulty.

SB 441 also eliminates collective bargaining from the teacher evaluation process. The bill aims to silence the voices of teachers in this important method of improving teaching. Teacher input into the local evaluation process is vitally important to improving the practice of teaching.

The measure is supported by Michelle Rhee—the disgraced former Chancellor of Washington, D.C. schools, who is involved in a scandal over allegedly rigged student test scores—and her StudentsFirst organization.  She and StudentsFirst are also seeking to undermine other important elements of due process and collective bargaining.

A quality evaluation system should serve to seek out, document and support good teaching in order to improve instruction and student learning. SB 441 will do nothing to improve the current evaluation process or provide useful feedback to educators, who are dedicated to improving their practice.

Readers interested in contacting Senate Education Committee members can do so by calling them.

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

Readers can also learn more about the issue by reviewing SB 441 Legislative Information and CTA's SB 441 Talking Points.


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Capitol News: Bill Would Undermine Collective Bargaining and Educator Involvement in Key Decisions

Mandates 50 percent of Teacher Evaluation Based on Standardized Test Scores

A bill introduced this year would roll back key elements of the state's collective bargaining law and force districts to base 50 percent of a teacher's evaluation on standardized test scores.

AB 430, by Assembly Education Committee Co-chair Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto), would eliminate the right of educators to bargain local evaluation systems – undermining the Rodda Act that Governor Jerry Brown signed into law in 1975.

Under AB 430, educators would have the right only to "meet and confer" on evaluation issues – essentially taking the voice of classroom experts out of key decisions. "Meet and confer" allows employers to ignore their working professionals' input.

In contrast to CTA-supported evaluation legislation, which called for multiple measures of teacher effectiveness, and at a time the governor and education experts are pointing out the shortcomings of high stakes testing, AB 430 would require that 50 percent of a teacher's evaluation be based on student standardized test scores. Just as parents know that one test does not define student learning, so they know one test can't define teacher effectiveness.

Like hundreds of bills, AB 430 was introduced just before the legislative deadline. CTA's State Council of Education will review the bill at its April meeting.

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Teachers Disappointed at Legislature's Failure to Approve Evaluation Revamp

The California Teachers Association is expressing disappointment that lawmakers failed to approve AB 5, a CTA-supported landmark measure by Assembly Member Felipe Fuentes (D-Los Angeles) that would have transformed the state's antiquated teacher evaluation system into a highly useful process that would help teachers improve their professional skills.

“California’s educators are disappointed that the Legislature missed a great chance to change the state’s teacher evaluation system in a way that would have improved our profession and student learning. AB 5 by Assembly Member Fuentes was based on sound research about how you build strong learning communities for students width a comprehensive teacher evaluation system," said CTA President Dean Vogel in a statement released to the media.

“The California Best Practices Teacher Evaluation bill was an opportunity to get beyond the simple test score debate and to develop meaningful teacher assessments based on multiple measures of accountability. Teachers will continue to press for fair reforms like those outlined in this bill," stated the CTA leader.

"Assembly Member Fuentes worked diligently width all stakeholders for two years to create a comprehensive package. We thank him for his leaderships on this effort. CTA will continue to press for the rigorous and fair reforms like those outlined in this bill to transform a teacher evaluation system that is currently superficial and cursory, and so contrary to fostering the collaboration we know is necessary to improve student achievement.”

To read more about what is essential to a quality and comprehensive teacher evaluation system, see the CTA Teacher Evaluation Framework.

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Clock Runs Out on Evaluation Reform: Author Fuentes Holds AB 5

The author of the CTA-supported measure that would reform the antiquated 40-year old Stull Act teacher evaluation process has decided not to move the measure due to the difficulty in providing a full hearing to a series of amendments added to his AB 5 in the last days of the session.

Assembly Member Felipe Fuentes (D-Los Angeles) [pictured at right]  issued the following statement about his decision to hold the California Best Practices Teacher Evaluation Proposal:

“After working on this bill in a transparent and collaborative manner for more than two years, I could not in good conscience allow the proposed amendments to be voted on widthout a full public hearing.  There would not be sufficient time for myself or the stakeholders I’ve been working width, to review the amendments that were being proposed.  I believe this issue is too important to be decided at the last minute and in the dark of night."

"I would like to thank all of the stakeholders who participated in this process for the past two years – particularly the parents and community members, whose dedication to improving our education system is unparalleled.  While every study has shown the quality of a teacher as the single most important factor in improving student achievement, I am disappointed that we were unable to update California’s out-of-date 40 year old teacher evaluation system.  We have moved the needle a long way in creating a modern teacher evaluation system here in California.  I am hopeful that someone else will take up this critical issue and the mantle of teacher evaluation reform next year."

"Although I am termed out of the Assembly, I will continue this fight moving forward.  Because I believe that creating a rigorous teacher evaluation system is too important and ultimately our children’s futures are too important.  As a parent and legislator I know that every child deserves a quality teacher in their classroom.”

The California Teachers Association commended Assembly Member Fuentes for his hard work in seeking to revamp the evaluation system to help students and teachers.

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L.A. School Board Member: Transform Evaluations - Approve AB 5

An influential member of the Los Angeles Unified School District has added his voice to those, including the California Teachers Association's, calling on lawmakers to approve AB 5, a comprehensive reform of the 40-year-old Stull Act that governs the evaluation of teachers.

LAUSD Board Member Steve Zimmer has written a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown expressing his support for the bill by Assembly Member Felipe Fuentes that would provide "transformational change" that Los Angeles' students need.

Writes the Board Member: "Each and every Los Angeles student deserves a system that measures teaching and learning in dynamic ways that honor their multiple intelligences. And every teacher who has dedicated their life to educating our next generation deserves a new system that improves the profession and respects their lifework. AB 5 sets the framework for this to happen across our state."

The full text of the two page letter is below.



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CTA Takes Lead on Reform, Improvement to Teacher Evaluation System

CTA is pressing the legislature to approve AB 5 - a landmark measure that would implement best practices and common standards for teacher evaluation.

Teachers have long expressed dissatisfaction width the current process. Because evaluators need to treat all of our members fairly, the evaluators need training to make sure they understand how teacher evaluation is supposed to work.

Learn more about the bill by reading the background paper on the issue that is embedded below.

Then go to the CTA Legislative Action Center to learn more about the issue.


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New Study Refutes LA Times Teacher Ranking

A study released this week confirms what CTA has been saying since the Los Angeles Times first published teacher rankings based on standard test scores two years ago:  that the Times methodology was flawed and the resulting rankings were of little value in actually rating or predicting a teacher’s effectiveness.  The study by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice calls out the Times for its analysis and subsequent overreaching conclusions about who is a good or bad teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

CTA members were appalled when the Times decided it would be the new arbiter of effective teaching in Los Angeles, and its decision to publish teacher names and Times-assigned rankings was irresponsible.  The new study not only points why the Times was wrong, but it reinforces concerns CTA and others have been pointing out about using test scores to rate teachers long before the Times started this project.

Since No Child Left Behind was passed over a decade ago, the emphasis on standardized testing has gotten completely out of control. What was once a valuable tool to help teachers determine how well their students were learning has become a high stakes (high stakes for everyone except the students actually taking the test, and most of them know it) performance measure on which funding and even sometimes  jobs now depend.

Standardized tests cover only a fraction of the content taught by teachers. English and math scores don’t tell us much about how a student will do in science or social studies, and even those scores are just a snapshot of where a student was on a particular day in relation to that particular test. The tests were never designed to measure teacher effectiveness, but  they’ve been hijacked for a whole new purpose so in many cases they are now viewed as more about the teachers than they are about the students.

The Times attempted to make their reliance on test scores more fair or accurate by using a “value-added” model that tries to take into account factors like a student’s previous testing history. But the value-added concept in teacher evaluation has been questioned or  debunked by many researchers, as there are too many unaccounted for factors, including the types of students a teacher receives over a period of years. The Great Lakes study reasserts that a value-added ranking is of little or no help to parents.

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