June 2, 2017

Educators for Excellence-Los Angeles Reacts to Passage of Teacher and Student Success Act in State Assembly

LA Teachers Helped Craft the Legislation

June 1, 2017 (Los Angeles) – Today, the California State Assembly voted to pass the Teacher and Student Success Act (AB 1220). Educators for Excellence –Los Angeles (E4E-Los Angeles), a teacher-led organization released the following statement in response to today’s vote. 

"As an educator, I’m encouraged to see AB 1220 pass the Assembly today, as it brings us one step closer to making permanent status – commonly known as tenure –a true professional milestone in California teachers’ careers,” said Misti Kemmer, a 4th-grade teacher at Russell Gifted Magnet Elementary School and member of E4E-Los Angeles. “Now it is up to the Senate to further strengthen the Teacher and Student Success Act and ensure that we are truly giving teachers the time and support they need to be successful and granting tenure to those who have proven themselves effective in the classroom.”

The original legislation was introduced by Assemblymember Shirley N. Weber in March and supported by a broad coalition of education and civil rights organizations, including Educators for Excellence-Los Angeles (E4E-Los Angeles), Teach Plus, Alliance for a Better Community, Association of California School Administrators, Children Now, Community Coalition, Education Trust—West, Families in Schools, InnerCity Struggle and the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, as well as newspapers, such as the Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union-Tribune, Sacramento Bee and the Fresno Bee.

“As California schools face a teacher shortage crisis, our state has a responsibility to help teachers develop the skills to become effective educators and encourage those who have proven their talents to remain by granting them permanent status,” said Ama Nyamekye, Executive Director of E4E-Los Angeles. “We thank the State Assembly for working to advance this legislation, but in order for this bill to ensure its goals of improving the permanent status process, elevating the teaching profession and creating a quality learning environment for students, the Senate must strengthen its provisions to create stronger teachers.”

E4E-Los Angeles recommends that the Senate incorporate aspects of the original bill into the final Teacher and Student Success Act in order to extend the current time for teachers seeking tenure from two years to three, and provide optional fourth and fifth years for teachers who are struggling but show promise and commitment to demonstrating effectiveness. The act should also prioritize mentoring and other professional development opportunities for teachers who need additional support in honing their craft. Our teachers hope to continue working with legislators on these changes, which are key to raising aspirations and support for the next generation of teachers in California and the students they proudly serve.

California is currently in the midst of a growing teacher shortage and AB 1220 could address this issue by providing new teachers time to demonstrate effectiveness before being granted or denied tenure. California has one of the shortest periods for teachers to receive permanent status and a recent statewide survey found that only 15 percent of California teachers found the current two-year timeline sufficient. 

Improving tenure has been a focus of E4E members since 2015, when E4E-Los Angeles released a report, “Reimagining Tenure,” which provided policy recommendations written by a group of nine Los Angeles teachers. The paper is the outcome of four months of policy research and reflects input of over 700 school staff, parents and students, and calls on legislators to preserve job protections while elevating the teaching profession by making tenure a more meaningful process and professional distinction.