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UTLA in Favor of Peer-Assistance Programs, Site-Based Hiring

United Teachers Los Angeles recently put out a big editorial that explains its view of how to help the teaching profession. It largely reiterates the union's usual support of such features as reduced class sizes and better professional development, but there were a few new things in it that caught my attention.

First, the union suggests expanding the practice of allowing teachers to interview candidates at their schools. This form of hiring, usually called site-based, generally gives individual schools and often administrators more say over who they choose to work with. But one thing I can't figure out is how this system works in tandem with the seniority system. Perhaps it is addressed in the district's new contract, which isn't up on UTLA's Web site yet. But under the old contract at least, such hiring practices seemed to apply only to voluntary, rather than involuntary, transfers.

Second, the union gives props to peer-assistance and -review programs for teachers. But as recently as 2008, UTLA President A.J. Duffy was quoted as disliking PAR programs. What happened between then and now?

Finally, the union supports teacher training where candidates spend more time student-teaching in classrooms that resemble the ones where they will end up teaching. This mirrors the clinical-fieldwork push that seems to be the watchword in teacher education these days.

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