Assemblymember Weber: California Should Support New Teachers with More Time for Tenure

On Wednesday, for the Associated Press, Sophia Bollag reported on legislation proposed by California Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) that would support new teachers by prioritizing them for additional mentoring and other professional development resources and giving them three to five years to demonstrate classroom success before a decision is made on whether to grant them tenure. Under the current system, if new teachers are not granted tenure within their first two years of teaching, the teacher is generally not given another chance in the district, which leads to high turnover among new teachers.

The Teacher and Student Success Act (AB 1220) would change California’s existing process by making tenure an earned professional distinction — and giving new teachers additional time to earn it. Assemblymember Weber contrasted this with the current process, under which tenure is effectively granted or denied after 18 months, without enough time to make a fair and informed determination: “One of the things that it will affect is the confidence that we have made a good decision in the end. It will be a process rather than just simply, you’ve survived.”

In a related op-ed for The Sacramento Bee, public school teacher Stephanie Luty Piazza described the benefits of the Teacher and Student Success Act: “Teachers are given more time to demonstrate and develop excellence, and their administrators have more time to ensure the best people are instructing their students.” Piazza joins a growing chorus of teachers who agree that the current tenure timeline does not allow teachers adequate time and support in their first years of teaching. In fact, a California poll of traditional district school teachers found that 85 percent believe tenure should be decided after at least three years of classroom experience.

By recognizing and rewarding great teaching and providing new teachers with the support they need, AB 1220 will elevate the profession and help attract new passionate teachers into public schools, helping to address the growing problem of California’s teacher shortage. It will also help to ensure that all California students — especially the state’s most vulnerable students — have equal access to great teachers who empower them to succeed.