By Connie Llanos Staff Writer | LA Daily News
04/27/2010 -- Los Angeles Unified officials should have the power to reward some teachers with incentive pay and fire others for underperformance, according to a long-awaited report being presented to the school board today.
Many of the recommendations in the report require changes to state law or major negotiations with employee unions that could take months or years.
But the 24-page document contains some suggestions that can be implemented by the board immediately, paving the way for perhaps the biggest ever overhaul of the district's teacher evaluation process.
"There are a lot of things we've needed to do better for a very long time to be able to guarantee every student in this district an amazing and effective teacher," said LAUSD school board member Yolie Flores.
"We owe it to our kids to begin to tackle these sacred cow issues."
The report is the product of six months of meetings and discussions among 50 local teachers, administrators, parents, academics and union leaders who made up a district task force. It was set up last year after board members failed to pass sweeping changes to their teacher hiring and firing policies. It also coincides with recent efforts launched by state officials to make similar changes.
The report is expected to receive strong support from school board members and LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines, who is also set to ask for immediate action on some of the items that don't require changes to the state's Education Code or union contracts, like changes to make the evaluation process of teachers much stricter.
Still, the board was not expected to vote on any recommendations today.
Recommendations in the report include:
- strengthening teacher evaluations by using, among other things, student test data to evaluate performance.
- establishing a pilot program that would pay teachers more money if they work in harder to staff schools.
- extending the time that a teacher is considered "probationary" or "non-permanent" from two years to up to four years.
- advocating for changes in state law related to teacher layoffs and dismissals, including allowing the school board to have the final say in dismissing teachers.
Despite being active participants in all of the task force discussions, labor leaders are expected to voice their concerns today with the recommendations laid out by the report.
"Many items in this report are flawed and based upon premises that are not backed up by solid data," said A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, representing some 38,000 teachers and counselors.
Currently both Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and state Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes have also introduced legislative proposals that seek to streamline the process for firing teachers and also want to eliminate the state laws that require school districts to base all of their layoffs solely on seniority.
Duffy said local and state efforts to curb teacher protections will be opposed by UTLA and other unions.