June 28, 2018

Teachers Protest Lawmakers for Silencing their Voices on Tenure Reform

June 28 (Los Angeles) — Educators for Excellence–Los Angeles (E4E-Los Angeles), a teacher-led organization, reacted to the removal of the Teacher and Student Success Act (AB 3091) in the State Senate Education Committee, a teacher-written bill to strengthen and preserve tenure. E4E-Los Angeles teachers helped author legislation that would have extended the time to secure tenure to at least three years and make tenure a more meaningful milestone in the teaching profession.  

E4E-Los Angeles and Teach Plus California convened a dozen educators from across the state to hold a “teach-in” at the Capitol in Sacramento. The teachers discussed their work crafting and advocating for the Teacher and Student Success Act, demanding a hearing, as the bill was halted through a secret backroom deal without input from teachers. The teachers also participated in a protest in the Capitol Rotunda with “Silenced Teacher” signs over their mouths.

"Never in my 26 years of teaching did I think I would end up in the California Senate Education Committee room holding a sign to protest that teachers are being silenced, but that's exactly what I spent today doing,” said Phylis Hoffman, a second-grade teacher at Harry Bridges K-8 School in Wilmington and member of E4E-Los Angeles. “As an educator who has worked on strengthening and preserving tenure in California for the past few years, I’m frustrated, disappointed and shocked to see AB 3091 removed from the Senate Education Committee hearing. The state’s tenure law has been untouched for over 35 years and the legislature has silenced teachers who want to advocate for a more equitable tenure system.”

“This is the same day the U.S. Supreme Court made a historic ruling about unions and freedom of speech,” said Ama Nyamekye, Executive Director of E4E-Los Angeles. “If teacher voice is silenced in education policy and lawmaking, then that means we don’t trust the professionals who we are trusting with our children. Now, more than ever, we need to make it easier for teachers to be heard in their unions, schools and government. When teachers fly to Sacramento to testify on behalf of a bill they created, we have to give them a fair hearing.”

Driven by the E4E-Los Angeles 2015 Teacher Policy Team on Reimagining Tenure, AB 3091, a teacher-authored bill, sought to protect and strengthen teacher tenure as a meaningful professional milestone. The Teacher and Student Success Act honored the needs of students and the challenges early-career teachers often face by both extending the time to tenure and reinforcing the need for more support for teachers as they develop their craft. The bill was scheduled to be heard in the Senate Education Committee on June 27, but was denied a fair hearing without warning by legislative leadership.