SACRAMENTO (AP) — State lawmakers failed to revive a controversial measure that would rewrite state rules on teacher evaluations, but supporters vowed to bring it up again in the next legislative session.
The long-dormant bill, AB 5, was resurrected in recent weeks by Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes (D-Sylmar), according to the Los Angeles Times. It would institute a statewide uniform teacher evaluation system featuring more performance reviews, classroom observations, training of evaluators and public input into the review process.
Education advocates slammed the bill, saying the new rules would have weakened initiatives in Los Angeles and elsewhere to improve the quality of public school instructors.
The Times said the bill, supported by the powerful California Teachers Assn., attracted criticism over the costs to financially strapped districts and the requirement to negotiate with unions every element of evaluations, including the use of state standardized test scores. Teachers unions have argued that test scores are too unreliable for use in key personnel decisions.
More than 45 education, parent, civil rights and business organizations fought the bill, the newspaper said.
Fuentes announced Thursday, the eve of the legislative session's final day, that he would abandon his efforts. He said there was not enough time for a public hearing on the flurry of last-minute changes proposed to address the widespread concerns.
"After working on this bill in a transparent and collaborative manner for more than two years, I could not in good conscience allow the proposed amendments to be voted on without a full public hearing," he said in a statement obtained by the Times. "I believe this issue is too important to be decided at the last minute and in the dark of night."
The Los Angeles Unified School District has launched a voluntary evaluation program that uses state test scores as one measure of teacher effectiveness. Supt. John Deasy had said that the legislation would virtually end those efforts because the district would probably not be able to win agreement over it with United Teachers Los Angeles. The union is urging teachers not to participate in the program.
"This is a win for kids in Los Angeles and all over California," said Bill Lucia of EdVoice, an educational advocacy group that helped lead opposition efforts. "This bill would have eliminated basic accountability for teachers and principals, and this would have been a major step backwards."
CTA President Dean Vogel said the union was disappointed in the bill's failure but would attempt to revive it in the next legislative session. He said the measure would have laid out clear state guidelines to help teachers improve their practice.
The bill was an "opportunity to get beyond the simple test score debate and to develop meaningful teacher assessments based on multiple measures of accountability," he said in a statement obtained by the Times. He added that criticism over the bill's collective bargaining requirements was misguided, because teacher input was critical to crafting a fair and comprehensive review system.