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Mayor says teachers should earn tenure in four years -- not two

May 19, 2011 |  4:22 pm

Mayor says teachers should earn tenure in four years -- not two

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, in a speech in Sacramento on Thursday, called for doubling the amount of time it takes for teachers to earn tenure, linking students’  test scores to teachers’ evaluations and ending layoffs based strictly on seniority.

Villaraigosa has made similar remarks, but his speech at a teacher evaluation conference hosted by the Education Trust-West had new details of what he wants to include in teachers’ evaluations and how he wants to change tenure.

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Evaluations, which are based almost entirely on subjective measurements, should include students’ test data, including how well they have performed on standardized exams over time, Villaraigosa said, according to his prepared remarks. Performance reviews should also include classroom observations, peer evaluation, as well as an instructor's contributions to the community, including giving students extra help, coaching a sports team or chaperoning a club.

"Those things have a tremendous effect on kids, their sense of self and they way they learn," he said.

A new evaluation system that includes multiple measures should help administrators and teachers make more informed personnel decisions, Villaraigosa said.

"We wouldn't have to rely on something as arbitrary as seniority to make important decisions for us," he said.

Currently, teachers with the fewest years of seniority are laid off first during economic shortfalls and instructors with the most seniority generally have first pick of school and classroom assignments. A bill in the state Senate that would have allowed performance to be included in layoff decisions failed to make it out of committee last week.

Database: California Schools Guide

The mayor also called for extending the time it takes for teachers to earn tenure, or permanent status, to four years. Currently, teachers can be fired for almost any reason during their first two years but are entitled to go through an often lengthy termination process after that.

Villaraigosa acknowledged that he has no formal authority over state legislators or city schools, even though he heads a nonprofit group that runs some Los Angeles campuses and has backed candidates for school board.

"But I do have a bully pulpit and I will continue to use it," he said.


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Photo: John Deasy, left, and Antonio Villaraigosa at a news conference on Jan. 11. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles TImes