Teachers wary of measure aimed at tenure | SierraSun.com

Teachers wary of measure aimed at tenure

Christine Stanley
Sierra Sun

Teachers working long hours for little pay are not pleased with the governor’s idea of school reform.

On Nov. 8, voters will head to the polls to decide a variety of ballot propositions, including Proposition 74, a measure that questions whether the probationary period for new teachers should be extended from two complete consecutive school years to five before they are allowed a permanent position.

“I feel like it discourages new teachers from entering the profession because of decreased job security,” said Andrea Batie, a first-grade teacher in the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District. “It definitely increases the work load for administrators who will have to do more reviews more often.”

Batie has been teaching part-time at Glenshire for three years, but because she is not a full-time employee, she has yet to even enter the probationary period needed before securing tenure.

“In a state that is already struggling with a teacher shortage, this won’t help, it will only make it worse,” said Jodee Carlson, a job-share teacher in first and third grade.

Proposition 74 would also serve to modify the process by which school boards can dismiss a permanent teaching employee who receives two consecutive unsatisfactory performance evaluations. That’s something Dennis Williams, Tahoe Truckee Unified School District superintendent, said he doesn’t necessarily oppose.

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“There are teachers in many districts that are burned out and not meeting the needs of students,” Williams said. “I will be the first to say that we need to change the tenure laws to get rid of teachers who aren’t performing.

“What other profession do you know of that guarantees a job for life?”

There are nearly a dozen stages in the dismissal process for a tenured teacher, including a formal administrative hearing that can be appealed to a superior court and then to a court of appeals, resulting in a very long and paper-dense process, Williams said.

Proposition 74 aims to cut the paperwork back a bit by allowing administrators to fire teachers who are performing below expectations, and by retracting the 90-day window for improvement that districts are currently required to give.

Legislative analysts have not estimated the effect on school districts’ budgets for teacher compensation, performance evaluations, and other activities, but local teachers and school officials have estimated costs to be high.

“It will certainly be more costly for us to do our job,” said Glenshire Elementary principal Kathleen Gauthier. “And there is no funding that is going to help pay for the increased time that this is going to take. The state mandates that we do all this training and evaluating, but they only give us a portion of the cost.”

Of the fifty states, only Indiana and Missouri have five-year probationary terms; 33 states have a three-year terms.

For more information on Proposition 74 and other measures, check out http://www.ss.ca.gov/elections