February 26, 2018

Educators for Excellence-Los Angeles, Teach Plus and Assemblymember Weber Host Teacher-led Discussion on Equity and Tenure

Feb. 26 (Los Angeles) — On Thursday, February 22, Educators for Excellence-Los Angeles (E4E-Los Angeles) convened over 100 Los Angeles educators, community partners and other supporters to learn more about the Teacher and Student Success Act (AB 1220), a teacher-guided policy solution that seeks to preserve and elevate tenure as a meaningful professional milestone and address California’s growing teacher shortage.

Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), who authored the bill, and the educators who helped design it led a panel discussion on the legislation and its pathway moving forward in the state legislature.

“The public has embraced the concept of more time for teachers to hone their craft before they are either granted tenure or let go. Most people in the public realize that the current time frame to secure tenure is too short. It is indefensible. People cannot justify that 18 months is enough,” said Assemblymember Dr. Shirley Weber (D-San Diego). “The greatest gift given to a child is a teacher who cares and knows what to do in the classroom. Anything we can do to support our teachers is often looked on as a great step forward in public education. We need to give teachers the confidence, the skills and the time they need to be effective educators.”

AB 1220 is rooted in the expertise of teachers from across California and builds off their policy recommendations to make tenure a true earned professional benchmark. The teachers’ initial recommendations were laid out in two briefs, Reimagining Tenure (2015, E4E-Los Angeles) and Raising the Bar: The Views of California Teachers on Tenure, Layoffs and Dismissal (2015, Teach Plus). In June 2017, AB 1220 passed the California State Assembly 60-5.

“Teachers support AB 1220 because many of our new, novice teachers struggle in the first year in the classroom, and they are not given the proper supports to succeed. We also recognize that 18 months is too short a timeframe to reach tenure, and providing at least three years will give more time for our teachers to learn and grow at the earliest stage of their profession,” said Phylis Hoffman, a second-grade teacher at Harry Bridges K-8 School, member of E4E-Los Angeles and one of the co-authors of Reimagining Tenure. “Permanent status is something teachers need. This bill was driven by teachers to protect their profession, and I believe this legislation can make our unions stronger.

"The provisions in AB 1220, such as making tenure a true earned professional benchmark, came directly from teachers. The fact that the bill advanced as far as it did in the legislature was a significant moral victory for educators. It was encouraging to see lawmakers in Sacramento listen to teachers like me and take notice," said Bootsie Battle-Holt, math teacher at Marina del Rey Middle School in Los Angeles, E4E-Los Angeles member and Teach Plus Policy Fellowship alumna. "I hope that the legislature continues to consider teachers when it again takes up AB 1220 during its next session."

“AB 1220 not only addresses a technical issue; this bill also addresses an equity issue because data shows that novice teachers, who are embarking on the tenure process, are likely to teach in high-poverty communities of color. These are the very communities that most need access to well-trained, supported and effective teachers” said Ama Nyamekye, Executive Director of E4E-Los Angeles. “As California works to end its teacher shortage, this bill and process, which was entirely teacher led, helps set the stage for the future of the profession by giving teachers more time and support to grow, and gives families and the public more confidence in our public schools. It’s a win for teachers, students, families and California.” 

The event also introduced the launch of the first teacher-driven podcast, E4E’s Teacher Voice, that discusses issues that matter to educators. The first episode features Assemblymember Dr. Shirley Weber discussing AB 1220 with E4E-Los Angeles teacher Cyndi Reyes and E4E Outreach Director Brendan Sargent.