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New Push in California to Extend Time for Teachers to be Eligible for Tenure

A San Diego Democrat has introduced legislation that would extend the amount of time before teachers are eligible for the enhanced job protections that come with tenure from two years to three.

Currently, administrators have to decide whether to recommend educators for tenure after just about 18 months of observing them in the classroom. This fact was central to the landmark Vergara lawsuit, where plaintiffs maintained that poor-performing tenured teachers were harming California students. The move to expand the probationary period has so far failed in the courts and at the ballot box with Golden State voters rejecting a 2005 ballot initiative to expand the period to five years.

The bill's sponsor, assembly member Shirley Weber, cites a National Council on Teacher Quality report in support of the bill.

"California has one of the shortest times for a teacher to demonstrate classroom readiness and achieve permanent status," a press release issued by her office asserts. "Forty-two states provide teachers three to five years in the classroom to demonstrate success and earn tenure."

The bill is also garnering support from a teacher organization, Teach Plus, that contends the move is necessary for elevating the profession.

"Teachers are very clear on the need to modify the current system so that tenure becomes an earned, performance-based standard," Mike Stryer, the California senior executive director for Teach Plus, said in a statement. "AB 1220 takes concrete steps towards achieving such a standard so that we can more clearly realize a future where every California student has access to an excellent teacher."

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