AB 1220: The Teacher and Student Success Act

On Wednesday, The 74’s Sarah Favot covered the introduction of the Teacher and Student Success Act (AB 1220), a California bill introduced by Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) with the support of Teach Plus and Educators for Excellence. The legislation would extend the probationary period for awarding teacher tenure from two to three years and would provide additional fourth and fifth year options with additional mentoring and professional development resources. This bill would shift California’s teacher tenure laws to be more consistent with those of forty-two other states that award tenure after three to five years.

Assemblymember Weber discussed her belief that the current system hurts both new teachers and students: “When I served on the school board, I saw how unjust the current system was in terms of its ability to help teachers become effective.” California public school teachers agree that the current timeline does not give new teachers adequate time and support to achieve classroom success. A statewide poll of teachers in traditional district schools found that 85 percent think tenure decisions should be made after spending at least three years in the classroom.

In an op-ed published by LA School Report, Phylis Hoffman, a second-grade teacher at Harry Bridges K-8 Span School in Los Angeles Unified School District, explained how she received tenure immediately after she finished her teaching certification. For Hoffman, this undermined the rigor of the tenure process. Hoffman suggested, “Instead of rushing teachers through the tenure process during those early years, our profession needs to focus on mentoring new teachers.” For The Huffington Post, Taiesha Fowler, a sixth-grade teacher at Paul Revere Charter Middle School in Los Angeles, described her friend Lara’s experience with tenure. Lara, a special education teacher, was notified at the end of her first year that she would not be returning the following year. Fowler describes how “education is haunted by the unrealized promise of new teachers like Lara, who did not have a chance to mature,” and that under AB 1220, “teachers like Lara, who have had a shaky year or two, will have a total of five years to implement best practices. These teachers will now have more time to realize their potential.”

This policy solution — crafted by and for public school teachers — comes at a crucial time, as California faces a growing teacher shortage. AB 1220 will help ensure new teachers are recognized and rewarded for their hard work and dedication — attracting new teachers into the profession — and will benefit educators and their students across California.