September 30, 2005

Editorial:

Special Statewide Election Scheduled For November 8, 2005

Proposition 74: Public School Teachers. Waiting Period for Permanent Status. Dismissal. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 74 would change existing state law in the following ways.

Extends Probationary Period to Five Years. The proposition extends from two to five years the probationary period for new certificated employees.

Modifies Dismissal Process for Permanent Employees. The proposition states that two consecutive unsatisfactory performance evaluations constitute unsatisfactory performance for the purposes of dismissing permanent employees. In these cases, the school board would have the discretion to dismiss the employee and the board would not have to:

Provide the 90-day period· currently given to permanent employees to allow them to improve their performance.

· Provide as much initial documentation identifying specific instances of unsatisfactory performance (beyond that included in the evaluations themselves).

The effect of these changes would be to reduce requirements in the initial stages of the dismissal process and potentially place greater focus on the evaluation process. Although these changes would apply to all certificated employees, their primary effect would be on teachers.

Teachers have become the scapegoat for everything wrong with education in California and this proposition is just another attempt by our political leadership to divert attention from the real problems within our school districts. The problems within our school district is that our children, Hispanic/minority students, are not getting educated and it has very little to do with teacher tenure. And firing and hiring new teachers will do little to change this condition.

Part of the problem, historically, has been that the state and school districts have done very little to support those teachers in our Hispanic communities with the proper training materials, books, and up-to-date technology. The schools themselves are usually very old, in disrepair and are situated in communities that have to deal with many of society’s worst issues, gangs, drugs, dysfunctional families, low income, and health issues to name a few. Isn’t it strange that we never hear of problem teachers in our high income neighborhoods where these students have the best the State has to offer in the way of educational support and community support.

Instead we ask these teachers to go into situations that are challenging at best and saddled with high expections put upon them by politicians, like the No Child Left Behind which is being challenged by school districts such as Chula Vista Elementary, and when the goals are not achieved then the blame is laid at the feet of the teachers for not reaching politically set goals.

If you were to believe the supporters of Prop. 74, the impression you are left with is that bad teachers cannot be removed from their position once tenured, that is the furthest thing from the truth. Bad teachers can be removed.

As some might think, teachers do not have just one boss, presumably the principal, but have from anywhere from 20 to 35 bosses every year. The parents of each student in reality is a teacher’s boss whom the teacher has to answer to and herein lies the problem, the teacher has to please all 35 bosses and the principal. This is why tenure is important for our teachers so that they are entitled to a hearing amongst professionals and experienced personnel to determine if indeed we are dealing with a bad teacher or a teacher caught in a bad situation.

This Propostion does little to improve the education for our children it just deflects the focus from the real problems within education.

Let’s not scapegoat our teachers

Vote NO on Prop. 74.

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