Report outlines changes for flawed school system

first_img“It may be that the power to dismiss teachers would allow the principal to exercise influence in the school even without dismissing teachers,” the study’s authors note. “And it is this increased influence and not the firing of substantial numbers of teachers that is particularly important for principals’ efficacy.” The report also found the state’s education finance system is flawed and haphazard, resulting in similar schools receiving different funding amounts. And it said the state needs to do a better job tracking educational data to measure student progress and track which reforms are effective. The report “Getting Down to Facts” was requested by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger; Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell; Assembly Speaker Fabian Nu ez, D-Los Angeles; and Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland. Ultimately, the cost of following all its recommendations are estimated to range from an additional $23 billion to $32 billion a year for the basic achievement goals. The state currently spends about $66 billion a year on education. SACRAMENTO – California policies that make it difficult to fire ineffective teachers and set tougher performance standards are among dozens of problems imperiling the state’s public school system, according to a landmark report aimed at overhauling education. The findings are among hundreds in the broadest report in years and paint a picture of a K-12 educational system that is failing the state’s children and needs top-to-bottom changes and billions of dollars in investment. The report – a series of 22 studies – recommends sweeping changes in school laws and structures including teacher training and new data tracking. And in one of its most politically charged proposal, the report recommends giving principals more power to spend money, run their schools and fire teachers they deem ineffective. But its proposals for teachers may draw some of the most heat, as such issues have been long debated in districts including Los Angeles Unified, where powerful unions have blocked efforts to make principals too strong. While such moves wouldn’t likely cost the state much more, the idea is likely to face strong opposition from the state’s teachers unions. Schwarzenegger felt their power in 2005 when the California Teachers Association spent tens of millions of dollars to defeat his plan to reform the state’s tenure laws. That proposal would have extended by three years the period of time before teachers earn job security afforded by tenure. But the study released Wednesday found that California teachers earn tenure more quickly than their counterparts in most other states. CTA President Barbara Kerr said the group would oppose efforts to make it easier to fire teachers. Under current law, teachers can be fired for no reason within their first two years of employment, but after that they earn tenure and a dismissal usually requires one or more hearings. “We proved \ is not a good solution,” Kerr said. “Trying to deny a teacher a hearing is not a way to improve student learning. Let’s find some real ways.” Kerr added that the tenure- change proposal was based on a survey of principals. Had the authors surveyed teachers, “They would say the best way to improve schools is fire bad administrators.” Nu ez, a longtime ally of the state’s unions, indicated he might be willing to consider giving more power to principals. “I think I speak for my entire caucus when I say all of us believe firmly we need to do more to empower administrators to make smart decisions on teacher quality and make the right assessment in terms of making sure those teachers that are not doing a good job are being dealt with appropriately,” Nu ez said. In some schools and districts, it is so difficult to fire teachers that they are just shuffled from school to school, a process derisively called “The Dance of the Lemons.” [email protected] (916) 446-6723 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img