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Teachers want moratorium on layoffs and a new evaluation system

February 11, 2012 |  7:40 pm

Los Angeles teachers have approved a much-watched initiative that calls for a moratorium on layoffs as well as a new teacher-evaluation system.

Organizers of the initiative, which passed with 56% of the vote, immediately hailed the results as suggesting that teachers were willing to accept student test scores as part of a new evaluation system.

“Teachers will now take the lead on ending the destructive cycle of layoffs and developing a rigorous evaluation system based on multiple measures, including the careful use of student test data,” according to statement released Saturday by the group Teachers for a New Unionism.

The initiative itself does not mention using test data at all.

United Teachers Los Angeles president Warren Fletcher decided to endorse the initiative. No ballot opposition statement was submitted. Fletcher has consistently opposed using student standardized test scores as a portion of a teacher’s evaluation.  At the same time, the union leadership has supported using such data to help teachers improve instruction.

L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy has pushed for a teacher-evaluation system that incorporates standardized tests, among other measures. He also has insisted that the Los Angeles Unified School District has the legal authority to impose a new system without union approval.

The text of the approved initiative text reads as follows:

"Shall UTLA’s contractual negotiations with LAUSD include a moratorium on all RIFs for all UTLA bargaining unit members through June 30, 2014, as part of a revised, phased-in, teacher-driven evaluation system mutually agreed upon by UTLA and LAUSD?"

The acronym RIF stands for Reduction In Force, a term frequently used to describe teacher layoffs.

The initiative was put to a vote of the membership last week under the rules of the UTLA constitution, which allows for such ballot measures with the filing of a petition signed by at least 500 members.

In all, 11,412 teachers voted, about a third of the membership.

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-- Howard Blume

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