The proposed AB 5 legislation, authored by Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, is an effort by the teacher’s union to make every aspect of the evaluation of teacher performance subject to contract negotiations in a process that entirely excludes the interests of students.
The bill changes the current law that gives school districts the power to establish academic standards for each grade level and to evaluate teachers according to student performance in meeting those standards.
Although this power has typically not been exercised, recent actions to reform the Los Angeles Unified School District has unleashed a reaction in Sacramento to create new legislation that places the evaluation of teachers with the teachers themselves.
For example, the proposed law establishes the practices and criteria that should be included in teacher evaluation and puts the entire process within the collective bargaining between the teacher’s union and each school district.
Standards for student learning shouldn’t be decided in contract negotiations meant to protect interests that aren’t those of the students.
It is understandable that a union should defend its members. But in this case, although teachers are a very significant component of education, student learning should be the priority. That’s why putting the evaluation of teacher performance in the hands of those who are being evaluated is a terrible idea.
The protection of educators is not the issue here; rather, this is about the toxic influence of union politics driven by the desire to maintain the status quo, no matter how dysfunctional, and to oppose reforms as if the union had no responsibility in the disaster that is our public K-12 school system.
Currently the bill is expected to return to the Senate Education Committee early next week for public hearings. At that time, Fuentes is expected to introduce amendments to calm the opposition, but none of these change the process of teacher evaluation.
The stance of the Democrats in the State Assembly is disappointing. Except for six abstentions, they are all backing AB 5. We hope that the Democrats don’t give in so easily to the pressure of lobbyists and the money from unions. The funds and alliances help political campaigns but converting standards for student learning into points in contract negotiations comes at a high price.
California and its future generations will pay dearly for the decision to put narrowly focused agendas over the public interest. AB 5 should be rejected.