Los Angeles Teachers Recommend Changes To California’s Tenure, Dismissal And Layoff Policies

Los Angeles Teachers Recommend Changes To California’s Tenure, Dismissal And Layoff Policies

Teach Plus Teachers Propose Solutions that Prize Performance and Experience

LOS ANGELES, CA, SEPTEMBER 18, 2014— A newly released policy brief from Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellows includes specific recommendations for statewide legislative changes to tenure, dismissal, and layoffs (Last-in, First-Out/LIFO,) the education statutes at the core of the Vergara lawsuit. This is the first time that educators in Los Angeles are addressing the problems identified by the case with specific solutions that factor in performance and seniority. The brief, “Valuing Performance and Honoring Experience: Teacher Solutions for a Post-Vergara Profession,” comes from 30 Fellows all of whom teach in LAUSD schools and charter schools in Los Angeles.

“Our proposal represents the middle ground between the current broken system and the radical overhaul proposed by some that would leave teachers with no security,” said Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellow Andrea Burke, a 6th grade teacher at Dr. Owen Lloyd Knox Elementary School in South Los Angeles. “The recommendations balance the need to address students’ equity issues while ensuring that teachers are not subject to arbitrary and punitive decision-making.”

The Fellows’ recommendations are aimed at making teacher performance a factor in job-related decisions while retaining the due process in California. The Fellows suggest immediately extending the period to gain tenure from two to four years to ensure that a teacher has proven his/her effectiveness in the classroom. The recommendations around layoffs include both performance and seniority considerations so that effective and experienced teachers can remain in the classroom to serve students. The Fellows also call for districts to improve support programs for new and struggling teachers prior to dismissals.

Many Los Angeles teachers have experienced the current tenure, dismissal and LIFO policies first-hand. “It doesn’t seem possible that a teacher could be named a LAUSD Teacher of the Year and receive a ‘Reduction in Force’ notification in the same month but it happened to me,” said Teach Plus Policy Fellowship alum Pam Chirichigno, a 5th grade teacher at Rockdale Elementary School in Los Angeles and a LAUSD 2011-2012 Teacher of the Year. “We need to work collaboratively to make sure that our students are not losing exemplary educators.”

The brief includes the following recommendations:
• Extend the time needed for teachers to gain “permanent status” from two to four years.
• Require three consecutive years of evaluations demonstrating effective teaching in order to earn tenure.
• Base tenure decisions solely on performance.
• Require schools to provide evidence of support for teachers who have received an unsatisfactory evaluation.

• Improve and expand support programs that target new and struggling teachers.
• Connect teacher evaluation to dismissal process.

Layoffs (LIFO)
• Retain effective teachers in the classroom by beginning layoffs with teachers with unsatisfactory evaluation scores and the least seniority.
• Use teacher evaluations ratings in addition to seniority when making layoff determinations.

“When developing post-Vergara legislation, we must provide opportunities for teachers’ voices to be heard,” said Teach Plus Los Angeles Senior Executive Director John Lee. “We hope to work with all of the stakeholders, including policymakers and the unions, in carrying the Fellows’ ‘third way’ recommendations forward.”

About Teach Plus
Teach Plus aims to improve outcomes for urban children by ensuring that a greater proportion of students have access to effective, experienced teachers. Teach Plus runs three programs designed to place teacher leaders at the center of reform: Teaching Policy Fellows, the Core Collaborative (C2), and T3: Turnaround Teacher Teams. The programs focus on demonstrably effective teachers who want to continue classroom teaching while also expanding their impact as leaders in their schools and in district, state and national policy. Since its inception in August 2009, Teach Plus has grown to a network of more than 17,000 solutions-oriented teachers in six major cities across the country. www.teachplus.org
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