Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bravo for the ACLU and Arnold Schwarzeneger for working to keep the best teachers

Wow--at last we have bipartisanship in California to get rid of the worst teachers. My respect for the ACLU has skyrocketed. They're not afraid to challenge the California Teachers Association!

Lawsuit: Layoffs hurt minority kids
John Fensterwald
The Educated Guess
Feb. 25, 2010

Regulations for teacher layoffs are a prime example of how interests of adults are put ahead of those of children, especially minority children. Now, that system, along with state budget cuts that set it in motion, will face a court challenge.

In a case with statewide implications, the ACLU of Southern California and other public interest and pro bono attorneys are suing the state and Los Angeles Unified, charging that teacher layoffs have savaged three low-performing, low-income middle schools. All three have been thrown into turmoil since between half and nearly three quarters of their teachers got layoff notices last year. Most eventually did lose their jobs because of rules that dictate that less experienced teachers must be the first to go, regardless of how good they are with students and how well they fit in the school.

The suit, filed Wednesday in Superior Court in Los Angeles, comes less than three weeks before school districts must formally notify teachers that they may be laid off next year. With Los Angeles Unified facing a $640 million deficit, thousands of teachers are expected to get layoff notices, including yet again, many remaining teachers at the three schools named in the lawsuit. The ACLU’s next likely step is to seek an injunction preventing disproportionate numbers of teachers from those schools from being let go...

Will we finally get effective and transparent teacher evaluations? I could forgive Arnold for a lot of his budget screw-ups if he accomplished this.

Bill would end layoffs by seniority
John Fensterwald
The Educated Guess

Proposals that Gov. Schwarzenegger made during his budget speech in January to weaken teacher tenure and seniority rights have finally taken bill form.

Republican Sen. Bob Huff introduced SB 955 on the governor’s behalf last week. Its chief provisions would be to give local school boards, instead of the Commission on Professional Competence, final say over firing teachers, and to enable districts to lay off teachers based on a district’s subject needs and teacher effectiveness, instead of by seniority.

The California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers will likely fight every piece of the bill. But a civil rights lawsuit filed by the ACLU and other public-interest attorneys against the state and Los Angeles Unified, challenging seniority-based layoffs, may improve chances of at least the seniority piece becoming law. That would be a major step forward.

The lawsuit, filed earlier this year on behalf of students at three low-performing middle schools, noted the constant churn of new teachers at these schools, where seniority rules make it next to impossible for principals to hire and keep teachers they want.

SB 955 would apply not only to layoffs; it would give principals more latitude in reassigning and transferring teachers. Passage of the bill would make it imperative that districts come up with more comprehensive and transparent teacher evaluations.

No comments: