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Lawmaker withdraws teacher evaluation bill

August 30, 2012 | 10:15 pm

A state lawmaker on Thursday shelved a controversial bill to overhaul teacher evaluations in California, saying he had run out of time in the final week of the legislative session to give the proposal a full airing.

Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes (D-Sylmar) announced his decision in a statement. In recent days, the lawmaker had made key changes to the bill to overcome the fierce opposition of education groups, administrators and school districts who charged that the measure would weaken teacher evaluations and impede the use of test scores.

"There would not be sufficient time for myself or the stakeholders I’ve been working with to review the amendments that were being proposed," Fuentes said in a statement. "I believe this issue is too important to be decided at the last minute and in the dark of night."

His proposal would have established a statewide uniform teacher evaluation system, increasing performance reviews, classroom observations, training of evaluators and public input into the review process. But it also would have made that system subject to negotiated agreement with unions, including United Teachers Los Angeles, which opposes the Los Angeles Unified School District's use of student test scores as one measure of teacher effectiveness.

L.A. Unified Supt. John Deasy had said the bill would have made it more difficult to push forward a new voluntary evaluation program.

The bill appeared to be on shaky ground Wednesday as members of the Senate Education Committee gave the measure a tough hearing. While lawmakers noted the failures of the current evaluation system and stressed the need for change, they seemed overwhelmed by the measure's growing list of opponents.

State Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), the committee's chairman, asked Fuentes to include clearer language in the bill to ensure the use of student test scores.

“This is a shift in decision making,” he said. “If we move toward that model, … where we give the collective bargaining process a greater role, I as a legislator need to be assured that we end up with a robust evaluation system."

News of the bill's death was a blow for the powerful California Teachers Assn., which considered the bill one its top priorities this year.

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--Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento

twitter.com/mjmishak

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