California Educator

April 2013

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> L E G I S L AT I V E U P D AT E CTA/CFT fight lawsuit that ransacks your professional rights Corporate-led lawsuit says kids are failing because of teachers ���This lawsuit is baseless and meritless, and hurts student learning.��� So says CTA President Dean E. Vogel in announcing that CTA and the California Federation of Teachers are filing to intervene in a lawsuit that would strip teachers of professional due process rights and job security. ���The lawsuit is addressing the wrong problem, using the wrong process and proposing wrong solutions.��� The lawsuit, Vergara v. State of California, aims to overturn due process protections for teachers. It alleges that California Education Code provisions governing teacher dismissals, due process rights and layoffs are unconstitutional and should be eliminated. If upheld, it will make it harder to attract and retain quality teachers in California���s schools. In the latest attempt by corporate special interests and billionaires to push their education agenda on California public schools, Vergara was ���led by ���Students Matter,��� a group founded by Silicon Valley corporate boss David Welch, whose stated mission is to impact public policy by ���ling lawsuits. Hiding their agenda behind kids, ���Students Matter��� named eight kids in the lawsuit, including 13-year-old Beatriz Vergara. ���It���s not about kids for them, it���s about filing lawsuits and making money at the expense of our students and educators,��� says Vogel. ���It���s an ���ambulance chaser��� approach to education reform.��� Others involved are anti-teacher organizations such as Parent Revolution and Michelle Rhee���s StudentsFirst. Wrong problem Speci���cally, the lawsuit claims teachers��� rights should be eliminated because students are failing due to the retention of ���grossly ineffective teachers.��� Actually, student achievement is improving, despite the signi���cant school funding 16 California Educator April 2013 process focuses on increasing knowledge and improving professional practice; test scores may be included, but are not used for employment decisions. The summative process summarizes a teacher���s practice based on teaching and learning standards, and can be used in employment decisions. cuts in recent years. (See sidebar.) Laws governing teacher dismissals, job security and layoff procedures have absolutely nothing to do with the real issues facing California���s schools today, Vogel adds. The real issues facing California���s students today are inadequate resources, overcrowded Wrong process classrooms, lack of parental involvement, and ���This lawsuit is a corporate end run around the need for quality teacher training. the Legislature to set public policy,��� says Vogel. ���It���s an effort to keep parents and educators out of education policy decisions. Wrong solutions Clearly, it���s about making money, not about ���How will dive-bomb litigation solve anymaking a difference for students.��� thing?��� asks Vogel. ���By going through the The California Legislature is currently courts, these ambulance chasers are deliberin session and considering proposals that ately cutting parents out of the process.��� address teacher dismissal, streamlining the Education policy decisions should be process to keep our students safe, safeguardmade in the Legislature and not in the ing the integrity of the profession, and courts, he adds. At the local school district protecting teachers��� due process rights. CTA level, educators and parents can work is advocating for a quicker process and tough together to best meet the needs of students penalties for districts that do not follow the in that community and best represent their law. In fact, CTA is supporting two bills, AB interest to lawmakers. 375 and AB 1338, that would streamline the CTA is working with policymakers, local dismissal process (see facing page). school districts and other stakeholders to ���nd the right solution. Last year, CTA With the due process policies in place, unveiled its Teacher Evaluation Framework, after working two years, teachers get the which provides guidance to local educators right to a hearing, the right to tell their and their unions, as well as local school side of the story. The district must show districts and the state Legislature, in how to that administrators have done their job approach teacher evaluation. For CTA, it���s evaluating, supporting and notifying eduabout best practice and student achievement, cators of deficiencies. not making money off frivolous lawsuits. ���That takes work and time,��� Vogel says. To combat the cursory ���drive-by��� nature ���We spend a lot of time making students sucof many teacher evaluations, the framework cessful. The least we can do is do the same calls for making the process truly a joint for teachers. We want excellent teachers in endeavor where ���the teacher is an active our classrooms. Taking away job security participant, fully engaged and focused on and due process rights is unprofessional learning and improving practice, while the and inhibits good teaching. For districts, it evaluator is a knowledgeable partner provid- should be as simple as following the law.��� ing comprehensive, consistent and timely Dismissal and due process procedures feedback, information and guidance.��� are working well where districts are utilizThe framework formally introduces the ing the process currently mandated in state practice of ���formative��� and ���summative��� law. However, there are many not following evaluation procedures. The formative the process.

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