Majority Party Walks Away from Students

Senate Democrats Reject Sen. Huff’s Efforts to Protect Good Teachers
Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Legislation that would have allowed schools to protect their best teachers was defeated by Democrats in the Senate Education Committee today. SB 453, authored by Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar), would have allowed districts to make staffing decisions based on performance evaluations and factors other than a teacher’s simple date of hire – ensuring that every student benefitted from the best teacher possible.

“We have an education system that is depriving students of the education they deserve,” said Senator Huff. “We spend over half our state budget on education and yet we throw money at it without adopting the reforms we need to make it effective. I’ve tried to negotiate with the school employee unions who oppose this bill, but we’re just not going to come to an agreement. They represent the adults in the system. I’m representing the best interests of California students.”

Similar legislation introduced by Senator Huff three years ago was stopped by the Senate Pro-Tem and denied a vote on the Senate Floor to enable a “cooling off” period so more so called “stakeholder” meetings could take place. A year later, the Chair of the Senate Education Committee stopped the bill from moving forward, claiming that more time was needed to work on the issue. This year the Democrats have once again walked away from kids. 

“Teachers are the most important resource in a child’s education,” said Senator Huff.  “I’m disappointed that my colleagues on the Senate Education Committee chose to keep the status quo, which means some students will be unnecessarily stuck with bad teachers. Just one year of ineffective instruction can set a child back for a long time and even derail their long term education success.”

Senator Huff introduced SB 453 because current law ties the hands of school districts and their ability to make the most effective staffing decisions that benefit students. Layoffs or reassignments must be made strictly on when a teacher is hired, instead of job performance and quality teacher evaluations.

By requiring school districts to make layoff decisions based on an arbitrary “last in, first out” (LIFO) system, schools are forced to let go of many of the most qualified instructors -- hurting both students and dedicated teachers. LIFO policies disproportionally impact low-income students of color as schools serving these students have more junior teachers.  Some of these schools have annual turnover of 80 percent.

SB 453 had earned the support and backing of the California Chamber of Commerce, California School Boards Association, Congress of Racial Equality of  California, Democrats for Education Reform, Fullerton Chamber of Commerce, Voice for Our Kids and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.