Some rank-and-file teachers say they recognize the need to simplify the dismissal rules for problem teachers, whom one instructor labeled "lost causes."
But many teachers worry about losing legal protections that insulate them against the whims of principals.
"Yes, we need reform, but it doesn't sound like the governor has a good way to do it," said math teacher Carol Silva, who has spent 23 years at Garfield High School in East Los Angeles."I would like to see the procedures streamlined for people who will not change. But to just have two warnings and you're out, I don't like that. It could make it very arbitrary."
The whims of principals. That is a major concern. Read this email from a fellow member of a maillist I'm on and see if Prop 74 isn't just ripe for abuse. I received permission to post this email, but was asked to edit out identifying items.
CA List Members: This particular initiative is quite worrisome to those of us outspoken teachers who have stood up against bad administrators and bad educational policy. Had this initiative been in place some 10 years ago, neither my husband nor I would still be teaching because we would have been fired. Our offense? We were a "detriment to our school community" because we didn't believe in whole language and we said so. Believe me, it was *extremely* hard doing what we did, even with the protections that we had in place at that time.
My participation in the Commission, my husband's in the various state ed panels and committees, and both of our fights locally against bad policy and for good curriculum all would have been negated had this proposition been in place because we would have been silenced.
You might think that CA curriculum has changed, administrators know better and support good educational practices, standards are in place, etc., so good teachers needn't worry and mustn't be protected against the notion of a bad administrator retaliating against good teachers doing and saying the right thing. Well, you would be wrong! There continue to be bad administrators pushing for the wrong thing, and these bad administrators continue to be angry with outspoken teachers for speaking against the wrong thing. Those schools of ed continue to teach that standards, our state assessment and accountability system, state approved standards-based programs,direct instruction, etc., are bad.
My current principal is terrific, but he is not my only administrator.
I know that xxxx will not appreciate this opening of a can of political worms, but I have to ask that before voting CA folks consider what will happen to the good teachers with weak/bad administrators if this passes. Thanks.
And what about budget crises? The most senior teachers might all of a sudden become horrible teachers--because they're the most expensive.
It's my belief that the Governor proposed this, sincerely, for two reasons. First, he wanted to take the teachers' union down a notch, and second, because it makes sense to get rid of "bad" teachers. On the first issue he failed miserably; he struck at teachers and not the union, and gave the union a strong rallying cry. On the second issue he has a good idea but is throwing the baby out with the bath water--streamlining what I call undue process is obviously overdue, because it really does take an inordinate amount of effort to remove bad teachers--but to make it too easy to remove teachers potentially puts good teachers in the crosshairs. Think about those teachers who go out on a limb, advocating for students. Or those who challenge an administration when it breaks the law, whether intentionally or not. Or those who advocate for the state standards against those who are convinced that they know better, and think that whole language, fuzzy math, and group work are the keys to educational Shangri-La.
If this proposition were going in the right direction but didn't go far enough, I'd vote for it as an incremental improvement. But it goes too far--and Governor, I don't support you on this one.