Provisions to give teachers power over book and curriculum selection dropped
SACRAMENTO – Teachers won’t get expanded powers during collective bargaining to influence the selection of textbooks after legislators Wednesday dropped those provisions from a hotly debated education bill.
State lawmakers Wednesday dropped provisions in a hotly debated education bill that would have armed California’s teachers with power over textbook and curriculum selection.
The Assembly Appropriations Committee voted to send an amended AB2160 to the Assembly. The new bill would create academic partnerships made up of schools’ trustees and teacher representatives, with provisions to ensure that local schools boards heed their advice. Parents would also be included.
Written by Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg, D-Los Angeles, AB2160 is one of two bills backed by the California Teachers Association and causing a huge rift between the state’s largest teachers union and Gov. Gray Davis, who has threatened to veto both bills.
Although the CTA has supported Davis in the past, including giving his 1998 campaign about $2 million, it has been frustrated by the governor’s support of more tests for students and greater accountability for schools and teachers, said president Wayne Johnson.
Goldberg’s bill on testing, AB2347, would eliminate most of the state’s testing system that is at the heart of Davis’ education reforms. The committee voted to send it to the Assembly.
The bill would start testing in third, not second, grade, as well as eliminate monetary awards for teachers, staff or schools with improved test scores, Goldberg said, adding that scores are influenced by socio-economic forces beyond a teacher’s control.
Many of these award programs, however, were already removed from next year’s budget as the state faces a $23.6 billion budget shortfall. The budget includes about $500 million in school reductions, including the governor’s pet performance awards program for schools and teachers whose students improve test scores.
Johnson said the testing bill wouldn’t eliminate testing but would create a new test that actually measures what students are taught. A new test, however, has not yet been designed.
Opposition has been growing against the bills, specifically the one dealing with collective bargaining. Last month, opponents created Californians for Public School Accountability, a coalition of business and school administrators groups.
Opponents say the collective bargaining bill could cost taxpayers an extra $200 million, because the development of programs the bill would require would mean more spending would occur.
Collective bargaining is a mandated cost reimbursed by the state. In the current fiscal year, the state will reimburse school districts $38.8 million for K-12 collective bargaining, according to Kevin Gordon, a spokesman for the California Association of School Business Officials.
Assemblyman George Runner, R-Lancaster, wondered that if extra money was being spent on academic partnerships, if cuts would mean “cheaper books” would be bought.
Goldberg, however, said the partnerships could take place when teachers are already on the time clock.
Opponents, who said the bill would give teachers more power, weren’t placated by the amendments. The Association of California School Administrators and the California School Boards Association said they will not support the amended bill.
Because many districts already allow teachers to have a say in choosing textbooks, Goldberg’s bill “will just create another layer of bureaucracy,” said Laura Jeffries, the ACSA’s legislative analyst.
But teachers, Goldberg said, often leave the profession after a few years because they don’t have a voice. Her bill would give them one, she said