Assemblyman's teacher rating bill shelved

Published: Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012 - 11:49 pm | Page 4A

Hotly contested legislation to create a new statewide teacher evaluation system was shelved Thursday night, one day before the Legislature adjourns for the year.

Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes made the decision after learning that there would not be time for a public hearing on last-minute amendments.

"I could not in good conscience allow the proposed amendments to be voted on without a full public hearing," the Sylmar Democrat said in a prepared statement. "I believe this issue is too important to be decided at the last minute and in the dark of night."

Fuentes' Assembly Bill 5 had sparked a deep split within the education community – with the California Teachers Association supporting it and groups for school administrators and school boards opposed.

Fuentes' goal was to create a new system that would evaluate teachers more often, using multiple measurements and more extensive observations than districts use now.

A lightning rod for controversy, however, was Fuentes' proposal to collectively bargain all aspects of any evaluation system.

Fuentes would have required the evaluation system to take into consideration progress on student test scores, but the weight given to that and other measurements would have been decided at the bargaining table.

Opponents said that leaving key details to collective bargaining would have resulted in an evaluation system with no teeth.

The finishing touches and last-minute amendments to AB 5 were being made less than three months after a Los Angeles judge ruled that California's largest school district was violating state law by failing to use student test scores in evaluating teachers.

Fuentes vowed to continue the fight even after he is termed out of the Assembly this year.

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