State Legislature Puts Teacher Tenure Reform on the Table

Amidst unprecedented education budget cuts, California legislators are looking at reforming key provisions of the State Education Code, including teacher tenure.

In February the Orange County Register ran an article titled O.C. school chief: ‘Eliminate teacher tenure’

In March the Los Angeles Times headline read California’s quality-blind layoffs law harms teachers and students

On April 21st, a California legislative education sub-committee voted 5-4 to pass along Senate Bill 955.  SB955 revises the teacher layoff notice deadline from March 15 to June 15, removes the seniority provision and allows districts to layoff teachers based on subject needs and teacher effectiveness, and provides school boards the final say when firing a teacher thus shortening the process of removing a teacher from the classroom.

The California Teachers Association (CTA) adamantly opposes this legislation.

Senator Bob Huff, author of the bill, is quoted as saying, “Schools should be able to decide which teachers will best serve our students. Hiring and firing decisions should not be based on an arbitrary last in last out policy. Our education system creates a quality-blind system when it comes to staffing decisions, and that’s not in the best interest of the kids.”

As parents in this district what are your thoughts? Do you support this kind of reform? Have your children been affected by seniority based layoffs?

Read more about SB955 here

SB 955 Bill Language


10 thoughts on “State Legislature Puts Teacher Tenure Reform on the Table

  1. Absolutely! There are bad teachers at all levels of course, and some REALLY REALLY fabulous ones. But the ones that stay year over year due to tenure are the ones that make me not want to support any of them.

  2. It should be an improvement over the existing law. Too many good teachers are being laid off while mediocre to poor ones are left in the classrooms. However, I guess it all depends on the fine print and it’s implementation.

  3. State Senator Mark DeSaulnier has met with CTA and has decided to support CTA’s decision to oppose the bill. Senator DeSaulnier represents the 7th District which includes all of MDUSD. Senator DeSaulnier’s phone number is (925) 942-6082 or you can email him by going to his website
    Senator DeSaulnier’s staff could not confirm if the Senator also met with parents in his district to hear their concerns.

  4. Not sure of the fine print and what provisions come along with tenure dissolution, but I whole-heartedly believe in reform of tenure. No other career has security without proper performance. It would weed out the incompetent and hold up the star performers. I believe it would bring new and excited people to the profession as well !

  5. The choice should be to support students and their educational goals. Tenure should be a deciding factor only after benchmarking results.

    Educational standards have been stagnant for decades. In any other industry, those that have not been able to improve, would have been handed their walking papers. Why is it we continue to look to those that have been part of the process for answers. Being a teacher is a privilege, not a right. linking their job to performance seems reasonable and is long overdue.

  6. Obama’s administration and California is starting the process of reviewing the teacher evaluation and tenure process. The current system was established to set guidelines and protect teachers from unfair or discriminatory practices. While some sort of due process protection is necessary today, it has made it almost impossible to remove ineffective teachers. Data from the U.S. Dept. of Education show that districts only dismiss 2.1 percent of teachers for poor performance. With performance standards being stagnant for several decades, one must ask why tenured teachers essentially enjoy the functional equivalence of employment for life.

    The process for granting tenure needs to change, because in its current state, children are not being served. What does the National Council on Teacher Quality say about California?

    Area 1: D-
    Identifying effective teachers
    California’s policies regarding the identification of effective teachers are sorely lacking. The state has only two of the three necessary elements for the development of a student- and teacher-level longitudinal data system, and although California requires classroom observations as part of teacher evaluations, the state fails to require evidence of student learning through objective measures such as standardized test scores. California’s probationary period for new teachers is just two years, and the state does not require any meaningful process to evaluate cumulative effectiveness in the classroom before teachers are awarded tenure.

    Area 2: C
    Retaining effective teachers
    California requires mentoring for new teachers in high-needs schools. The state’s requirements for a non-probationary license are more reasonable than those in many states; however, California does not base advancement on specific evidence of teacher effectiveness. Although the state does not support retention bonuses, its other policies regarding teacher compensation are commendable. California gives districts authority for how teachers are paid and supports compensation for relevant prior work experience, differential pay for teachers working in high-needs schools and shortage subject areas, and a performance pay initiative. However, the state provides only a defined benefit pension plan for teachers. While California offers teachers more flexibility to purchase time than the policies of most states, its pension policies are not portable or fair to all teachers. Further, retirement benefits are determined by a formula that is not neutral, meaning that pension wealth does not accumulate uniformly for each year a teacher works.
    Area 3: D
    Exiting ineffective teachers
    California’s policies for exiting ineffective teachers are lacking. The state requires only one evaluation a year or new teachers, and although California requires an improvement plan for teachers receiving unsatisfactory evaluations, no state policy addresses whether negative evaluations would make a teacher eligible for dismissal. The state also issues renewable provisional licenses, allowing new teachers who have not passed licensing tests to remain in the classroom for up to two years.
    Overall Performance: D+

    Until students have the teachers that can effectively teach, they will be at a disadvantage. Parents who want to keep their children on an level playing field with those in other states should consider finding help in the private sector. Check out

  7. We’ve been fortunate so far that all of my daughter’s teachers, whether they’ve be tenured or not, have been good to excellent teachers. Unfortunately, there are many teachers within MDUSD that are downright poor performers and they are tenured and immune to layoffs. It’s not fair that they should remain while excellent non-tenured teachers must leave.

  8. Cal Senator Mark DeSaulnier refutes the statistics in an article in Contra Costa Times (Krupnick) that details the decline in Latino enrollment 2010 UC Berkeley. DeSaulnier says decline is but 0.4% and no need for any action on his behalf. Senator’s contact 916 651 4007 925 942 6082
    Pass it on

  9. Our children’s education at UC Berkely is being slashed by $3,000,000 because the Chancellor needs the $3,000,000 to hire consultants to do the work of his vice-chancellors. A legacy of waste in UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Office: easily grasped by the public, lost on University of California’s President Yudof.
    The UC Berkley budget gap has grown to $150 million, & still the Chancellor is spending money that isn’t there on $3,000,000 consultants. His reasons range from the need for impartiality to requiring the consultants “thinking, expertise, & new knowledge”.
    Does this mean that the faculty & management of UC Berkeley – flagship campus of the greatest public system of higher education in the world – lack the knowledge, integrity, impartiality, innovation, skills to come up with solutions? Have they been fudging their research for years?
    The consultants will glean their recommendations from faculty interviews & the senior management that hired them; yet $ 150 million of inefficiencies and solutions could be found internally if the Chancellor & Provost Breslauer were doing the work of their jobs (This simple point is lost on UC’s leadership).
    The victims of this folly are Faculty and Students. $ 3 million consultant fees would be far better spent on students & faculty.
    There can be only one conclusion as to why inefficiencies & solutions have not been forthcoming from faculty & staff: Chancellor Birgeneau has lost credibility & the trust of the faculty & Academic Senate leadership (C. Kutz, F. Doyle). Even if the faculty agrees with the consultants’ recommendations – disagreeing might put their jobs in jeopardy – the underlying problem of lost credibility & trust will remain. (Context: greatest recession in modern times)
    Contact your representatives in Sacramento: tell them of the hefty self-serving $’s being spent by UC Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau & Provost Breslauer.
    Let there be light

  10. Where does all that money that Senator Desaulnier collected come from? 74% of the $850.000 came from Sacramento. Sacramento is not in the seventh senate district. You now have an answer on why the voices of the seventh senate district are not heard on legislation in the California State senate.
    Share with a neighbor

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