When Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu ruled in June 2014 that California’s teacher tenure and dismissal laws are unconstitutional, it sent shock waves through the political system. State officials appealed the decision, but superintendent of public instruction challenger Marshall Tuck and Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari turned it into one of the central issues of the November election.
With the case winding slowly through the legal process, it has been largely ignored by a Democratic-controlled Legislature sympathetic to the powerful teacher unions that vehemently oppose the ruling. A package of Republican bills this spring to overhaul California’s teacher hiring, firing and evaluation practices was promptly axed in an Assembly committee, which shelved the proposals for further study.
The bills – which would eliminate seniority-based layoffs, incorporate student feedback and test scores into teacher evaluations, and expand to three years from two years the time to tenure – will briefly emerge from their six-month hibernation today for an informational hearing in the Assembly Education Committee, 1:30 p.m. in Room 4202 of the Capitol. Don’t expect much to come from it, though they may get a grilling from committee chair and former teacher Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach.
DMV, MYSELF & I: It’s been a busy year for the California Department of Motor Vehicles. The agency opened 2015 with a new driver’s license for undocumented immigrants, which accounted for more than half of licenses issued through the first six months, and it’s closing the year with the launch of a traffic fine amnesty program that has already drawn tens of thousands of applicants. Next year brings automatic voter registration. How is the DMV coping? The Senate Governance and Finance Committee examines changes the department is making to its services to keep up with demand, 10 a.m. in Room 3191 of the Capitol.
SONG BREAK: Do you like a side of Christmas spirit with your state worker? The CalPERS holiday chorus performs at 11 a.m. in the Capitol rotunda, followed by the Caltrans choir at noon.
CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to state Sen. Pat Bates, R-Laguna Niguel, who turns 76 today, and California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton, who is 83.