No matter how many years go by, we always remember the name of that teacher who changed our lives, who challenged us to reach higher, motivated us to work harder and encouraged us to dream bigger. And those of us with children, nieces and nephews or grandchildren in our lives know the look on a kid’s faces when he or she comes home from a day spent with that teacher.
On Wednesday, the Senate Education Committee is scheduled to vote on Assembly Bill 1220, the Teacher and Student Success Act. This bill, authored by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, in collaboration with public school teachers across the state, seeks to strengthen California’s tenure law by providing new teachers with more time and support to earn permanent status.
As the new president of California State PTA, a former school board trustee and a parent, I am proud on behalf of the PTA to support this common-sense legislation.
Since 1897, PTA has advocated for our nation’s children, families and schools. Working with millions of parents, families and teachers, California State PTA has focused on increasing equity in our public schools and empowering families to advocate for their children’s educational opportunities.
Unfortunately, California’s current teacher tenure law offers new teachers just 18 months to sink or swim in the classroom, and then punishes them with a black mark on their record if they don’t hit their stride in this short period of time – to the detriment of teachers and students. This practice discourages new teachers from entering the profession, abandons promising teachers who could have excelled with proper professional development, and disproportionately burdens our most vulnerable children with unprepared teachers.
AB 1220 would help fix this problem, by giving new teachers an additional year to grow and master their craft, along with providing access to additional mentoring and development resources. Further, the bill will help combat California’s growing teacher shortage by making tenure an earned benchmark that rewards hard work and dedication to student success.
The correlation between student success and teacher quality is unequivocal, as is the correlation between teacher success and the support that new teachers receive. Being a great teacher requires far more than technical skills to deliver instruction. It takes knowing how to get a child’s attention at 8 a.m., effectively engaging parents and families, understanding how and when to integrate art into the curriculum and so much more. Expecting teachers to master the nuances of great teaching in 18 months is unfair. Teachers should have at least three years and adequate support.
All children in California, regardless of zip code or family background, deserve a quality education. That’s been part of the California State PTA’s mission since our founding. I urge senators to embrace that mission by supporting AB 1220.
Dianna MacDonald is president of the California State PTA. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.