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Schwarzenegger supports bill to streamline educator discipline

April 20, 2010 |  3:28 pm

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday threw his weight behind legislation that proposes to give school administrators the ability to assign or fire teachers based on their effectiveness and to streamline the educator dismissal process.

Schwarzenegger made similar suggestions during a speech in January. State Sen. Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) sponsored the bill, which is scheduled to be introduced to the Legislature on Wednesday.

At a news conference Tuesday at Markham Middle School in Watts, Schwarzenegger said that California's schools need to operate more like private companies that can make personnel decisions based on merit rather than seniority, which is currently the only measure public school administrators can consider during layoffs.

That "means the best and most committed...teachers are getting laid off while ineffective teachers are allowed to keep their jobs," he said.

Because of California's budget woes, districts throughout the state have issued preliminary layoff notices to thousands of younger, less experienced instructors.

A class-action lawsuit was filed in February on behalf of students at three of Los Angeles' worst-performing middle schools, including Markham, which were forced to lay off dozens of teachers last year. The suit claims those students were denied their legal rights to an education and aims to prevent the Los Angeles Unified School District from laying off more teachers there.

Teachers unions officials have vowed to fight the bill, saying that it amounts to an attack on teacher tenure and would hurt the state's ability to recruit and retain educators.

-- Jason Song

Photo: "Sweet" Alice Harris, left, gets the crowd to react as Markham Middle School teacher Nicholas Melvoin addresses a news conference following Schwarzenegger's introduction of SB 955. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times