California Assembly Passes AB 1220

The California Assembly passed Assemblymember Shirley Weber’s (D-San Diego) Teacher and Student Success Act (AB 1220), advancing the recently amended version of the bill to the state senate in a bipartisan vote of 60-5. The legislation, proposed by Assemblymember Weber at the encouragement of teacher organizations Teach Plus and Educators for Excellence will now be considered by the Senate Education Committee, where the conversation about how best to fix the state’s tenure law and support public school teachers and students will continue.

AB 1220 would extend the timeline for teachers to earn tenure while also providing additional mentoring and development opportunities for teachers just starting out in the classroom. It would also help to bring California’s laws in line with the views of 85 percent of teachers in traditional public schools throughout the state.

Last Saturday, the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board endorsed the previous version of the legislation — which included a three-year probationary period, optional fourth and fifth years for struggling teachers who show promise and required that tenure decisions be based on demonstrated success in the classroom — calling it “modest,” “reasonable” and “a fair compromise.” As the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board pointed out, various studies have found most new teachers need four years to reach their top potential, so “a teacher who looks like an iffy prospect at 18 months [and] might be rejected under the current do-or-die law…[could] improve by leaps and bounds over the next year if he or she is retained.”

The Editorial Board also pointed out that AB 1220 would make California’s tenure laws more consistent with the policies in place in 42 other states, and that “there is no evidence that weaker tenure protections in other states have turned off prospective teachers, or that California’s stronger law has encouraged them, considering that the state faces a severe shortage of qualified teachers in math, science and other fields.”

The Editorial Board of the Los Angeles Times joins a growing list of supporters, including the state school administrators’ association (ACSA), the California PTA, education advocates and nonprofits, civil rights groups, community organizations and other newspaper editorial boards.