Thursday, January 15, 2015

Reformers Could Have Saved Everyone A Lot of Trouble By Doing This First: Teacher survey: Change tenure, layoff laws | EdSource

Teacher survey: Change tenure, layoff laws | EdSource
I am not surprised by these results despite my distrust of teach + . Teachers suffer when there are ineffective teachers , as do students . I do not blame tenure because bad teachers are permitted to stay. I blame administrators who only take the trouble to when they want reprisals . I have heard one whine about the paperwork and hearings . He never said it was impossible  to fire a teacher. He said it was a pain in the ass. And if he did not do his part and provide the documentation and follow protocol, the effort was wasted. There is a lot if cases in the OAH that have been kicked back due to sloppy paper pushing. In court , this has derailed many a prosecutor . I agree the process is obtuse and confusing . But I can't tell if that is the process or just the LAUSD _UTLA fuckery . 
Teachers want the process to be shorter more than anyone . The truth is there us ni Rush in LAUSD's part to remove any of it. They don't want to put your case away unless it us with you being terminated . The longer the teachers wait m the harder it is to contact witnesses whose memories get faded , who move away, who are coerced and bribed . There must be some brouhaha rumbling about something , who knows, maybe the illegal terminations and Due Process 
Outrages  have become the law suits and complaints they shouk have been two or three years ago.  While I am not as effusive about Jerry Brown as Duane Ravitch or as certain he is on the reformer's side as some activists , I am encouraged by this proactive effort. Less than 700 teachers is a small poll and I Dislike that it is under the Teach+ atch, which suggests UTLA may have a hand in it . If UTLA suddenly was what it is supposed be and actually made an effort to help teachers , I would back them. However , the slush fund for a strike they cannot justify when so many students are in MISIS Crisis and they have done nothing to hammer out a deal  ... I call that the back stabbing

January 13, 2015 | By John Fensterwald | 25 Comments
Gov. Jerry Brown said last week he's open to changing tenure and other teacher employment laws at issue in the Vergara v. State of California lawsuit, and most teachers in a new survey say they want to change them, too.
Most of the 506 public school district teachers who answered the online questionnaire, which was released Monday, said they favor lengthening how long it takes for teachers to receive tenure and making job effectiveness, not just seniority, a factor in layoff decisions. They also support a less drawn-out process for dismissing poor-performing teachers – as long as teachers have an opportunity to improve and their peers are involved in evaluating them.

Teach Plus, a national organization of teachers, funded the survey, which was conducted by Goodwin Simon Strategic Research, an independent opinion research firm with offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
The survey responses are more nuanced than the positions of the unions that represent them – the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers. Both unions are defendants in the Vergara lawsuit, which claims laws regarding teacher tenure, firing and layoffs disproportionately hurt poor and minority children, saddling them with the state's worst-performing teachers. Last year, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu agreed with the plaintiffs and ruled the laws unconstitutional. The two unions have filed an appeal.
"The evidence at trial overwhelmingly showed that these statutes promote and support important public interests like attracting and retaining qualified teachers for California public schools while providing objective, fair, and transparent procedures in the event of economic layoffs," the unions stated in announcing their appeal.
The views of teachers in the survey offer a path to compromise, "a 'third way' between reformer calls to throw out all teacher job protections and old-guard calls to preserve virtually all elements of the current system," Teach Plus, which has called for changing the laws challenged in the Vergara lawsuit, said in its summary of the teacher survey.
The survey included a cross-section of new and veteran teachers from various grade levels. Its four main findings, according to a Teach Plus summary, are:
Teachers highly value tenure but support making it more performance-based, granted after a longer period than two years on the job under current law. Five years, on average, would be the appropriate length of time, the respondents said.
  • 81 percent said tenure is important to them personally;
  • 55 percent worked at a school where tenure protected an effective teacher from dismissal;
  • 69 percent said tenure protected an ineffective colleague who should have been dismissed but wasn't;
  • 15 percent said tenure in two years or less was appropriate;
  • 75 percent said qualified teachers should play some role in tenure decisions.
Teachers believe that classroom performance should be an important element in any layoff decision.
  • 71 percent said layoff decisions should be based partly or entirely on classroom performance; 24 percent supported basing layoff decisions almost entirely on seniority;
  • 74 percent worked at a school where an effective teacher was laid off because of a lack of seniority.
The current system needs to better support struggling teachers while setting a time frame for firing persistently ineffective teachers.
  • 74 percent said it should take no more than two years for dismissal after a teacher receiving help was still determined to be ineffective;
  • 36 percent of teachers said it should take no more than one year.
Teachers should be given a central role in developing policies on tenure, layoffs and dismissals.
  • 75 percent said they should play at least a partial role in tenure decisions;
  • 75 percent said that teachers' observations should be part of the tenure decision.

Governor interested in middle ground

Gov. Brown discusses the Vergara lawsuit at a press conference on Jan. 9.
Source: webcast of press conference on the state budget
Gov. Brown discusses the Vergara lawsuit at a press conference on Jan. 9.

Gov. Brown said he'd be open to changing tenure and related laws when asked by a reporter at a press conference on the state budget Friday if he expected legislative action this year in response to the Vergara ruling. His three-minute answer indicated he's struggling for the right balance.
While saying he understands why teachers believe tenure is important, he said, "It is a contentious issue, and I would welcome any improvement that people could suggest." Charter schools, most of which are non-union, aren't bound by the teacher protections at issue in Vergara, he said, and that system "functions pretty darn well."
Brown said the "real intensive focus on the Vergara-type issues … isn't really getting at the really big problem, and the big problem is training teachers, recruiting them, retaining them, inspiring them and then their doing the same thing with students." And he associated the Vergara lawsuit with a string of "silver bullets" – "grandiose programs these last few years, from No Child Left Behind to Race to the Top" – that "seem all to have faltered."
But then, in a final nod to those who brought the suit, he acknowledged that some teachers "are not so good, and getting rid of them is a nightmare. So I certainly am open to dealing with that."
Brown had not commented extensively on Vergara since Attorney General Kamala Harris filed an appeal of Treu's decision on the state's and the governor's behalf in August. That one-page appeal cited technical reasons, not a defense of the laws. It said only a Court of Appeal and the state Supreme Court can issue rulings that have a statewide impact, not Superior Courts; therefore, "changes of this magnitude, as a matter of law and policy, require appellate review." The appeal also faulted Treu for not detailing the factual and legal bases for his ruling.
Both sides in Vergara are expected to submit briefs to the 2nd District Court of Appeal early this year, but the court has no deadline for a ruling. And so the Legislature may not be in a hurry to act this year.
"I find it counter-intuitive that the governor is appealing a court decision that compels the Legislature to do the right thing, yet says he's open to any improvements," Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, who has unsuccessfully proposed bills that would change tenure and dismissal laws, said in a statement Tuesday. "Teachers deserve reasonable job security, but as a Legislature we have the moral and legal obligation to put the interests of students first."
Joshua Pechthalt, president of the California Federation of Teachers, called Brown's comments "a mixed bag." He said the union is pleased that Brown has appealed Treu's ruling and recognizes that the way to make teachers more effective is improving the process of training and mentoring teachers.
However, he said Brown is "mixing apples and oranges" when comparing teacher contracts of charter schools with other public schools. Since most charters are non-unionized, teachers speak less freely about their workplace conditions, he said. "It would be like sticking a microphone before Wal-Mart workers (a non-union workplace) and asking them to talk about their jobs," he said.
Students Matter, the nonprofit organization that brought the Vergara lawsuit on behalf of nine student plaintiffs, said in a statement Tuesday: "Students Matter agrees with the sentiment that the Vergara ruling does not represent a silver bullet but rather a critical piece in creating an equitable education landscape where all kids have access to a quality education. The governor's willingness to explore tenure is a great step forward."
Mike Stryer, a former Los Angeles Unified teacher who is Teach Plus' vice president for district and union policy, said Brown would find his views parallel those of most teachers. Teach Plus, he said, welcomes the opportunity to modify existing laws.
Pechthalt countered that he's confident the positions of the union are fully consistent with the views of its members.

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