Saturday, October 12, 2013


Gov. Brown’s Veto Leaves Teacher Dismissal in Limbo

by Hillel Aron, LA School Report

Assembly member Joan Buchanan, left, and State Senator Alex Padilla, right

<<Assembly member Joan Buchanan, left, and State Senator Alex Padilla, right

Posted on October 11, 2013  ::  Governor Jerry Brown’s veto of AB 375, a bill that would have amended California’s teacher dismissal process, doesn’t mean the effort is dead.

“The governor still wants to do something,” LA Unified’s chief lobbyist, Edgar Zazueta, told LA School Report. “I do see there will be one, if not several, efforts to do this next year. Hopefully we’re able to find somewhere in the middle, where more stakeholders can embrace final product.”

Zazueta added that Brown “always wants to make sure that all the stakeholders are on board. With 375, it was unbalanced. None of the folks who do dismissals were part of process.”

Gloria Romero, who just left California Democrats for Education Reform to start her own organization, (column right>) the Foundation for Parent Empowerment, also sees a pathway forward, even if it remains uncertain who’s leading the effort.

“The stars are aligned,” she said. “There will be a very bright public spotlight on this. The legislature will have to act. The question is, who carries it this time?”

Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, the East Bay Democrat who sponsored the measure, has not decided whether she will go forward with a reconfigured approach or defer to someone else on the issue. One possibility is State Senator Alex Padilla, who authored a bill, SB 10, that would have made it easier to fire teachers accused of harming a student.

That bill died in committee after an intense lobbying blitz from the California Teachers Association.

This year, Padilla declined to take the lead on the new version of the bill – perhaps because he’s running for California Secretary of State and doesn’t want to antagonize the teachers unions. Buchanan’s bill was supported by teacher unions but widely attacked reform groups and newspaper editorial boards statewide.

“I still strongly believe that the discipline appeal process is broken,” Buchanan said in an email. “It takes too long and costs too much money. However, I agree that the path forward is uncertain.”

The question then, is there a compromise to made?

Romero also said that if the legislature doesn’t act, there could be a move by outside groups to write a ballot initiative. “There’ve been discussions, believe me, about which way to go forward,” she said.

A ballot initiative could pressure the legislature into acting. But the real pressure might come from Vergara v. California, the lawsuit filed by Students Matter aimed at tearing up many of the laws that govern the teacher dismissal process. That trial is set to being on January 27 – and could have an enormous impact on how teachers in California are fired.

Students Matter spokesperson Danielle Kelton said that Brown’s veto “definitely highlights the failure of the legislature to address the problem.”

Gloria Romero Leaving One Ed ®eform Group to Start Another

by Hillel Aron | LA School Report

Gloria Romero, from her days as State Senate Majority Leader

<<Gloria Romero, from her days as State Senate Majority Leader

Posted on October 3, 2013   ::  Gloria Romero is stepping down from her position as Director of California Democrats for Education Reform (or DFER) to start a new organization, the Foundation for Parent Empowerment.

“I am thankful for the opportunity to have worked with DFER, but believe that it is time to move past party politics and focus my skills and organizing with parents who form the true base of any education reform movement,” she said in a statement.

In 2010, as a California State Senator, Romero authored the country’s first “parent trigger” law, which allows a majority of parents to replace a school’s leadership. But the fiercely independent Romero hasn’t always agreed with the tactics employed by Parent Revolution, the non-profit that has helped organize every parent trigger campaign in California to date.

Romero’s new organization will focus on empowering parents to affect change at their children’s schools.

“A myriad of federal and state laws exist which, when combined, offer parents greater opportunities to become more actively involved in helping their children pursue the American Dream via education,” she said.

Romero’s independence and unpredictability have earned her many enemies. Last year, she even broke with DFER’s national organization to support LA Unified and seven other California school districts in their quest for a No Child Left Behind waiver.

Nevertheless, DFER Executive Director Joe Williams lent a quote to Romero’s goodbye press release, saying, “We are extremely grateful for all the great work Gloria has done for children and families in California as an elected official in the California Legislature as well as her leadership of DFER in California.”

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