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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: Education & Student Activism
Attack On Teachers: California Special Election Prop 74 Analysis
PROPOSITION 74 PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS. WAITING PERIOD FOR PERMANENT STATUS; DISMISSAL, INITIATIVE LAWSUIT
Increases length of time required before a teacher may become a permanent employee from two
complete consecutive school years to five complete consecutive school years.
Measure applies to teachers whose probationary period commenced during or after the 2003-2004
Modifies the process by which school boards can dismiss a permanent teaching employee who receives
two consecutive unsatisfactory performance evaluations.
Summary of Arguments for: Under current law has poor student performance is not a reason for dismissal of teachers.. California currently ranks near the bottom of educational attainment. It’s reasonable to withhold tenure from a public school teacher until she or he has worked for five years. It saves public money and tends to limit the pool of teachers to those committed to teaching. It is also reasonable to make it more possible to dismiss teachers who aren’t doing a good job.
Summary of Arguments Against: Tenure is an important safeguard that protects teachers from abuse of the review process and unfair or politically motivated disciplinary actions. Tenure is the only way to insure there will be enough teachers to instruct the more than 6 million students currently enrolled in California public schools. The legislature needs to fund education adequately to improve student performance, rather than intimidate underpaid teachers.
Citizens to Save California* $10,283,450 as of September 19, 2005
*Who are these guys: Most of their money comes from Governor Schwarzenegger’s California Recovery Team.
some contrbiutors are:
Walmart Stores Inc. $100,000
Cendant Corporation, $115,000
Hartford Financial Services Group - The Hartford Advocates Fund $15,000
The Travelers Indemnity Company/St. Paul Travelers
Citigroup Inc. $100,000
Chevron Texaco, $50,000
Safeway, Inc. $25,000
Apple Computer, Inc. $5,000
Long’s Drug Stores, $10,000
Dryers Grand Ice Cream (T. Gary Rogers, Ceo) $50,000
Hewlett Packard $25,000
Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company, $25,000
Committee To Protect California’s Future*, $175,000 as of September 19, 2005
*Who are these guys: This committee is controlled by Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-46
Contributors include Professional Engineers In Calfornia Government Pecg - Pac, $25,000
Ca State Pipe Trades Council Of The United Association (Sacramento, CA) $100,000
Dave Jones For Assembly 2006 $25,000
Bass for Assembly 2006 $25,000
No On 74, A Coalition Of Teachers And School Board Members For Quality Teaching And Learning* $5,201,419 as of September 19, 2005
*Who are these guys: The majority of their funding comes from Alliance for a Better California, a coalition of unions, teachers, firefighters, law enforcement, nurses, and health care workers.
California became the first state in the nation to establish teacher tenure law in 1921. Under current state law, teachers reach tenure upon successful completion of a two-year probationary period. During probation, a teacher can be dismissed for “poor performance” by her or his school district.
At the median pay rate of $55,300, a California public school teacher gets high pay relative to all public school teachers nationwide, but her money does not go as far as it does in less expensive states. Typically, a California public school teacher stays in the job 3 years, and then moves to another profession.
California students rank near the bottom nationwide, in large part because Californians have allowed public education funding to lag behind needs. The state needs schools, textbooks, educational materials, facilities, scholarships, reduced costs and increased professional assistance for distressed schools.
The Prop 74 logic of blaming teachers for the failure of California students is like a corporate officer reducing the sales division's budget and then threatening to fire the salespeople for not making enough sales. It doesn’t address the central issue, which is that California public education needs vastly more funding.
California's Nov. 8 special election is just three weeks away, and Fremont Unified District Teachers Association is hoping that will be enough time to convince residents to vote "no" on three ballot propositions.
Eight propositions are on the November special election ballot, three of them aimed to reform the public education system, something the teachers' association is not happy about.
With Proposition 74, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposes increasing a teacher's probationary period from two to five years before he or she can be considered for tenure.
Approval of the measure would modify the process by which school boards can dismiss a teaching employee who receives two consecutive unsatisfactory performance evaluations.
Under current state law, certificated employees serve a probationary period during their first two years of service with a school district.
The California Teachers Association opposes Proposition 74.
"This discourages new teachers from joining the education profession, and takes away due process of dismissal from teachers already in the profession," Fremont Teachers Association President Jeff Poe said. "And it's an unjust law."
Under current state law, permanent certificated employees may be dismissed for unsatisfactory performance, as well as a variety of other reasons, such as dishonesty or unprofessional conduct.
Most permanent employees must be evaluated at least once every two years.
If, however, they receive an unsatisfactory evaluation, they must be assessed annually until they achieve a satisfactory evaluation or are dismissed. Regardless of a reason, the dismissal process consists of about a dozen stages.
The process begins with a school district specifying reasons for dismissal, providing a 30-day notice of its intent to dismiss.
If requested by the employee, the process includes a formal administrative hearing and the right to appeal to a Superior Court and then a court of appeal.
Before being dismissed for unsatisfactory performance, the school district must first provide employees a 90-day period to allow them an opportunity to improve their performance.
Under Proposition 74, two consecutive unsatisfactory performance evaluations constitute unsatisfactory performance for the purposes of dismissing permanent employees.
In these cases, the school board would have the discretion to dismiss the employee and the board would not have to provide the 90-day period currently given to permanent employees to allow them to improve their performance.
School boards would also not have to provide as much initial documentation identifying specific instances of unsatisfactory performance.
Under Proposition 75, state unions will be required to obtain written approval from members each year to use a portion of union dues for political activity.
Poe said this proposition was unnecessary, because as it stands now, teachers' dues cannot be used for political campaigns.
He also said the proposition was deceptive to voters because it will only affect public employees, not union members in all professions.
"In Fremont Unified, no teachers (pay) into a political campaign unless they want to," Poe said. "The advocating we do is not for big benefits or for big salaries. Teachers don't have big benefits. The only thing we have is STRS, and we have to pay for that.
"The only campaigning we do is for public education," he added.
The association is also pushing for a "no" vote on Proposition 76.
This measure would grant the governor substantial new power to unilaterally reduce state spending, and revise key provisions relating to Proposition 98, school and community college funding, and transportation funding.
Poe said this proposition would give the governor virtually limitless power and the ability to make the cuts he sees fit three times a year.
"It's a power not even the president has," Poe said. "He'd be allowed to make budget cuts three times a year in October, January and March."
Poe added this proposition would give the governor the power to reduce funding in schools, and ultimately increase the number of students in a classroom.
He said that at the beginning of a school year, students could be in a room with 30 other children. Poe added, by January, those children could be in a classroom with 40 other students and a new teacher if the governor was allowed to make budget cuts three times a year.
Ultimately, Poe said where Proposition 98 ensured a set level of funding each year for public education, Proposition 76 allows the governor to determine the monetary amount each year.
"The voters approved Proposition 98," he said. "The California Teachers Association never set it up, and teachers were not involved with making the rules when the state created it.
"Overall, the governor should not be allowed to do this on a whim," he said.