Wednesday, June 02, 2010

What Does This Bill Actually Do?

Reader Maxutils directs my attention to this article in the latest edition of the CTA mouthpiece rag:

CTA is battling to defeat an opposed bill that could gain a second life because of a legislative maneuver but remains stalled in the Senate. SB 955, by Sen. Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar), which seeks to create an unfair system that takes away due process rights from teachers, should have gone to the Senate Labor Committee — but instead, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) has routed the bill to the Senate Rules Committee to keep it alive. In the ordinary course of business, SB 955 would have headed to the Senate Labor Committee where it would have received a fair hearing. More than 1,600 CTA members have already contacted their legislators urging them to kill this harmful bill.

SB 955 represents an ongoing effort by anti-teacher forces to simply blame teachers for the ills of public schools, without acknowledging years of chronic underfunding resulting in larger class sizes, fewer teachers, nurses, counselors and education support professionals, and the elimination of vital programs that keep students engaged in school.

In his State of the State speech in January, under the guise of responding to the state’s fiscal crisis, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger resuscitated his attack on teacher rights as a diversion from the pressing issue of funding our public schools. In April, the governor recruited Sen. Huff to carry his anti-teacher agenda, and Sen. Huff quickly enticed Sen. Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles) — a candidate for superintendent of public instruction — to back his bill...

Reasons to stop SB 955

* SB 955 is an outright attack on teachers and ignores real problems facing our schools. It’s outrageous that some lawmakers are scapegoating teachers during these tough economic times and robbing them of due process rights, while at the same time — because of $17 billion in budget cuts the last two years — neighborhood schools are eliminating entire programs and teaching positions, and in some cases closing doors for good.
* SB 955 won’t save the state one dime or do anything to improve student learning. Instead of blaming teachers, the governor and lawmakers should be working with educators to support public schools and provide all students with a quality education.
* We need to attract and retain the best candidates in teaching. SB 955 will discourage college graduates from going into the teaching profession because it creates an unfair system with no due process rights. The bill also opens the door to arbitrary and discriminatory treatment of teachers.
* SB 955 is unnecessary. There is already a process to remove ineffective teachers. During their first two years of employment, teachers can be fired for any reason. In their third year, teachers have a right to a hearing before being laid off. This process allows districts to consider student needs when making layoff decisions.
* California’s parents and teachers want the governor and the Legislature to focus on solving real problems — like soaring class sizes, inadequate resources, and the elimination of music, art, and vocational education programs — to ensure our children have a real chance at a brighter future.

What, exactly, does this bill do? All I get from this article is that it's "unfair" and "takes away due process rights from teachers". How? Does the bill say, "The purpose of this bill is to unfairly take away due process rights from teachers"? If not, and I'm sure it doesn't, then what does it say?

Gotta love the high journalistic quality of California Educator magazine.

1 comment:

maxutils said...

So, I actually looked up the bill, and I'm opposed to it, largely because a) it;s incomprehensible and b) it appears to touch on several subjects which are not really related to each other. Just as our ballot initiatives are supposed to deal with only one issue at a time, I believe our legislature should apply that standard to their bills as well. To the best of my ability to understand, it does the following:

a) moves the March 15 date for layoffs to 'on or after May 1, but no fewer than 30 days before the end of the school year'. Personally, I think this makes a great deal of sense-- even though it gives teachers less time to prepare if they are laid off, it also means districts will have a better idea of how many layoffs actually need to be given. They're not giving the layoff notices for kicks -- they're doing it because the union wants them to, and if they haven't given a notice by March 15, they can't ever do it.

b) eliminates some of the rights to seniority hearings, in ways not fully comprehensible to me. Well . . . first, I have always found these hearings to be a waste of time. I would love for CTA to come out with stats on how many mistakes are actually found in these hearings. Because, I know that districts are constantly in court fighting these for the last couple of months every year, and that's expensive. How many teacher's jobs could be saved if this money weren't being spent?

c) allows teachers to be dismissed in the summer/fall period which they currently cannot be, regardless of layoff notice. This is my chief complaint with the bill . . . why require layoff notices by a certain point, if you can then forgo them? I'm not positive I got this right.

d) allows factors other than seniority to be used in staffing decisions, in a way that was incomprehensible to me. Seniority right are hard won, and shouldn't be given up without serious consideration. I don't oppose out of hand some modification, but if I can't understand how it works, I'm not in favor of it.

e) in dismissal hearings, reduces panel from 3 (two people in the education field, one appointed by the district, one by the union, and an administrative judge) to 1 (administrative judge only). The decision is advisory only, and final decision is by the school board. This is my chief concern, because a) it has nothing to do with the rest of the bill, which purports to make staffing easier in terms of deadlines, but spills over into teacher competence, a wholly separate issue, and b) is a serious loss of due process. It means that if one is brought up for dismissal, the case will be potentially be decided entirely by people without any classroom experience.