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Concerns About Teacher Talks

Hillel Aron | September 18, 2012

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Left to right: Scott Witlin, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and Ed Voice’s Bill Lucia; Press conference after Doe v. Deasy decision

On Monday, representatives from LAUSD and UTLA met again to discuss teacher evaluations — the 15th session since July 11, when a judge ordered the two sides to develop a new system for evaluating teachers and principals that includes some measure of pupil progress.

Superintendent John Deasy told Teresa Watanabe of the LA Times, “I am anticipating a breakthrough with teachers, and I would say very soon.” (see: Slim chance for teachers strike in L.A., officials say)

But others aren’t so sure. UTLA president Warren Fletcher has repeatedly said that he opposes any use of student test scores in teacher evaluations. And it’s unclear how much progress has been made in the negotiations, from which the Doe v. Deasy plaintiffs have been excluded.

The process may not have gotten off to a quick start, according to Doe v. Deasy attorney Scott Witlin. “I got the impression that the district hadn’t given a proposal to UTLA until a few weeks ago,” Witlin told me. “I don’t know if UTLA has given proposal to district.”

The district and the administrators’ union reached a tentative agreement on how principals are evaluated, but the agreement “does not specify how much the student achievement data should count in the evaluations, saying it will be ‘limited’ and not the ‘sole, or primary, or controlling factor,'” according to Watanabe of the LA Times, (see: L.A. Unified, union OK system of evaluating principals)

A dispute over the exact weight that student test scores have in teacher evaluations is at the very heart of the teacher’s strike in Chicago.

In what may be a surprise to some, Witlin hasn’t been in on any of the negotiations. Neither have his clients, the six anonymous parents who sued the LAUSD over noncompliance with the Stull Act. (see: Outing lemon teachers at LAUSD)

“My clients are parents who, as always, are shut out of the process,” said Witlin.

The district and the union has until December 4th to reach an agreement. Otherwise, the judge could impose some kind of process on them.

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