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Evaluation agreement clears union hurdle; teachers endorse Zimmer

December 6, 2012 |  8:42 am

LAUSD school board member Steve Zimmer speaks in 2011. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

The governing body of the Los Angeles teachers union has endorsed a tentative agreement on teacher evaluations that incorporates the results of student standardized test scores. The approval was a key hurdle but rank-and-file members will have the final say when they vote at their schools in January.

The Wednesday evening vote took place at the Koreatown headquarters of United Teachers Los Angeles during a meeting of the union’s House of Representatives. The tally was 123 in support, 42 opposed and 12 abstentions, according to teachers at the meeting.

Proponents emphasized that the deal did not permit a “value-added” calculation for an individual teacher to be a specific part of that teacher’s job evaluation. Value-added formulas gauge a teacher’s role in student growth by attempting to account for past student performance and outside factors that affect test scores. Many teachers distrust the calculations and object to their reliance on standardized test scores.

The evaluation agreement does allow for test results to factor into an evaluation, but it doesn’t specify how much they will count for. Union President Warren Fletcher characterized this lack of specifics as a victory for union negotiators. School systems in other parts of the country have adopted exact percentages for each component of a teacher’s evaluation.

The union on Wednesday also endorsed candidates for the three school board elections scheduled for March.

In District 2, which stretches from downtown, UTLA endorsed Annamarie Montanez, Robert Skeels, Scott Folsom and Abelardo Diaz.  Members said the goal of the multiple endorsements was to drive incumbent Monica Garcia into a runoff.

District 6, in the east San Fernando Valley, has no incumbent. But here, too, the union endorsed four candidates: Monica Ratliff, Maria Cano, Antonio Sanchez and Ernie Cardenas.

The clearest decision was in District 4, which moves north from the Westside to the south San Fernando Valley. The union’s House endorsed one-term incumbent Steve Zimmer, despite some grumbling over his record. Supporters presented Zimmer as a friend to labor who will be facing a well-funded opponent backed by anti-union interests.  The vote to endorse Zimmer was 135 in support, 2 opposed and 7 abstentions.

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-- Howard Blume

Photo: LAUSD school board member Steve Zimmer speaks in 2011. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

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