Layoffs scaring off future teachers

Many of the 26,000 teachers in California who got pink slips in March may have their jobs back by August,  if their colleagues agree to furloughs or give-backs and if districts pass parcel taxes next month and come up with other savings. Los Angeles Unified alone  has rescinded two-thirds of the 3,100 layoff notices it issued two months ago.

But the damage to the teaching profession will last beyond the disruptions and uncertainty of the next few months. In a paper issued this week, the Santa Cruz-based Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning openly worries about the impact on the future supply of teachers that California will need over the next decade.

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Landmark ruling on teacher layoffs

A Superior Court judge has served notice to school districts statewide that the seniority rights of teachers do not trump the fundamental right of students to an equal opportunity for a good education.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Highberger issued a preliminary injunction Wednesday preventing any teacher layoffs for budgetary reasons at three Los Angeles Unified middle schools where large numbers of teachers have been given pink slips.

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Governor, State Board to ACLU: We’re on your side

The lawsuit against Los Angeles Unified and the state over seniority-based teacher layoffs and massive cuts to state education funding has taken some strange twists.

Both Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state Board of Education ­– defendants in the case – are taking the position that they agree with the plaintiffs. Their message: Don’t sue us. We’re on the side of kids in low-income schools whose teachers have been handed pink slips in disproportionate numbers.

The latest jockeying ­ – unusual but not unprecedented – may be a sign that an initial settlement is near. A court hearing into a preliminary injunction has been pushed back a week, until Tuesday, at the request of plaintiffs attorneys, in order to conduct negotiations with the defendants.

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Bill would end layoffs by seniority

Proposals that Gov. Schwarzenegger made during his budget speech in January to weaken teacher tenure and seniority rights have finally taken bill form.

Republican Sen. Bob Huff introduced SB 955 on the governor’s behalf last week. Its chief provisions would be to give local school boards, instead of the Commission on Professional Competence, final say over firing teachers, and to enable districts to lay off teachers based on a district’s subject needs and teacher effectiveness, instead of by seniority.

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Merit-pay bill deserved Crist’s veto

Following up on the veto by Florida Gov. Charlie Crist of a merit-pay plan: The Educated Guess doesn’t know much about the politics of Florida’s U.S. Senate race, in which Crist, a Republican, is apparently trailing. Some, like the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, speculate that Crist vetoed the merit-pay bill that Republicans jammed through the legislature, because he plans to run as an Independent and wants to cater  to teachers.

I know only that Crist showed good judgment.

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L.A. task force urges big changes in tenure, pay

One of the state’s most hidebound districts in the past  took a step this week toward becoming one of the most progressive. The rest of the state: take notice.

A  Los Angeles Unified task force that included teachers, parents and administrators and was chaired by State School Board President Ted Mitchell, has recommended significant changes in the way teachers in the nation’s second largest district are evaluated, paid and granted tenure.

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