The Social Justice Vision at Stephen S. Wise Temple

Our congregation will see Social Justice as a calling that derives from our sense of God and the imperative of Jewish Tradition. The Stephen S. Wise Temple community will use our influence, power and compassion to be a force for positive, meaningful and effective change in the quality of life on behalf of all the citizens of Los Angeles and the world.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

LAUSD Board moves to reform collective bargaining process to bring teacher workforce stability to local campuses

From the Office of Communications and Media Relations of LAUSD (June 15, 2010):
Resolution seeks flexibility in allowing reduction- in-force based on criteria other than seniority

(Los Angeles, CA) The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board of Education today approved a resolution to ensure school site workforce stability and equal access to effective teachers for all students. The resolution was passed on a 4-1 vote with one abstention. The resolution, Protecting Equal Access and Opportunity for All Our Students, was introduced by LAUSD Board Vice President Yolie Flores and Board Member Tamar Galatzan.

The resolution calls for Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines to engage the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Public Counsel, the State Board of Education, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), and other advocates to join the District in urging California lawmakers to immediately support legislative changes that would give school districts flexibility to protect equal access and educational opportunities for all students by allowing reductions-in-force based on criteria other than seniority.

“We have a responsibility to ensure that every student – in every one of our classrooms – is taught by an outstanding teacher,” said Board Vice President Flores. “To ensure school site stability and equal access to effective teachers, the District needs to be able to staff schools in a manner that minimizes the impact of seniority-based layoffs and simultaneously acknowledges the contributions of high quality teachers, regardless of their years of experience. Indeed, parents and students alike are asking that we find a way to make decisions based on whose teaching is the strongest, not on who’s been teaching the longest.”

The resolution also directs the superintendent to immediately develop a negotiations strategy to reform and improve all aspects of the collective bargaining agreement that may impede the ability to protect the stability of teaching staffs at all District schools. It further seeks to work and engage reform partners to revise and improve procedures affecting staffing at school sites.

"Providing a quality education to our students is not possible without the ability to keep our strongest teachers in the classroom," said LAUSD Boardmember Galatzan. "This resolution brings us a step closer to meeting that goal across the District."

During the last round of layoffs, a number of schools in the District had 50 percent or more of their teachers receiving reduction-in-force notices in 2009. These schools were often low performing with high percentages of low-income students. A large number of those teachers laid off were new, enthusiastic and effective teachers who are typically the drivers of high achievement and providers of a quality education for all students.

The recent preliminary injunction issued in the Reed v. LAUSD et al. lawsuit (it suspends budgetbased teacher layoffs at three District middle schools for the 2010-2011 school year only) is a lower court ruling. It is not binding authority that would allow the District to skip other schools this year or any District schools in the future.

Also, there is no settled legal authority under which the District may “skip” entire school sites under Education Code Section 44955. The statute permits deviation from a seniority-based layoff in only two circumstances: 1) where less senior teachers have special training or experience that more senior teachers do not have, and 2) when a constitutional violation has been identified and skipping is needed in order to maintain or achieve compliance.

The resolution also calls for the District to do everything it can to provide equal educational opportunities to students attending LAUSD schools, encourage local staffing control that focus on quality recruitment and retention of classified and certificated personnel, and pursue opportunities to amend the current collective bargaining agreement with United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA). This will allow schools the ability to staff and maintain optimum stability in the best interest of the students’ instructional program.

Commenting on the Board’s action today, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said, "The current, broken system fails to recognize the invaluable contributions talented teachers make in the lives of our students. We cannot stand by while our children suffer from teacher layoffs that prevent schools from providing a stable workforce of quality teachers.

“Our primary concern must be that every student has access to a high quality education--one that enables them to get into and graduate from college--and I congratulate the school board for passing this resolution and continuing to protect the rights of our students,” he continued.

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