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Senators Absent for Teacher Evaluation Hearing

Samantha Oltman | May 1, 2013

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The empty seats at the Senate Education Committee’s May 1 hearing on SB 441. via Twitter

A bill known as SB 441 that proposes changes to California’s rules on teacher evaluations is being considered a second time today by the Senate Committee on Education today — but eight out of nine of the Committee’s members have been absent from the meeting.

Scheduling might explain at least in part of the reason why only Senator Carol Liu is present at the hearing. This is a particularly busy day in Sacramento, as the deadline for the policy committees to report fiscal bills to the Fiscal Committee is Friday, May 3.

But another possible explanation might be the controversy surrounding the proposal, which pits the state teachers unions, who oppose the proposal, against reform advocacy groups like StudentsFirst, who support it.

A week ago, the Education Committee deadlocked on the evaluation bill, which is sponsored by Senator Ron Calderon (D-Montebello), after a contentious hearing. But it decided to schedule the bill for a second hearing on Wednesday, May 1.

StudentsFirst has ratcheted up its support for SB 441 in the days leading up to the second hearing, taking out a full-page ad in the Sacramento Bee and playing radio ads on a local Sacramento station to urge approval of the measure. The group also rallied its followers with mass emails, asking them to show up at the SB 441 hearing, or to call their senators and implore them to support improving teacher evaluation measures.

The California Teachers Association has hardened its stance against the bill since last week, writing in a post on its website that SB 441 “would do nothing to provide [teachers] with the useful and effective feedback that would help them become even better teachers.”

The CTA also said the bill would “limit evaluations to four measurements,” but it did not mention that current law only offer two grades to teachers: satisfactory or unsatisfactory.

Although eight of the Education Committee’s senators are absent from the hearing, the roll call for the meeting is being held off, so they should have until the end of the day today to cast their votes on the evaluation bill, if they decide to do so.

If not enough Senators are present, or if the vote is a tie between those for and against, the bill will be effectively killed.  We’ll let you know as soon as any votes or decisions are made.

Previous posts: Committee Deadlocks on Teacher Evaluation Bill; Union Re-Launches Deasy Evaluation Effort; Union Tells Teachers How to Protest Evaluations

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