UPDATE: AB 934 has been stripped of all meaningful improvements to California’s teacher employment laws by defenders of the status quo. Students Matter now opposes the bill and asks for real leadership in CA legislature to defeat it. The bill is an insult to the millions of public school students and hard-working teachers who deserve better.
After years of advocacy efforts in support of California’s students, both in the courts and in the court of public opinion, Students Matter has endorsed a legislative remedy for the statutes challenged by the groundbreaking Vergara v. California lawsuit: Assemblymember Susan Bonilla’s AB 934. In addition to supporting Students Matter’s work to help shape certain provisions of the bill and ensure that the legislation met the needs of both California students and teachers, RALLY also handled the communications and earned media around Students Matter’s endorsement, earning positive coverage from a number of publications that have followed the Vergara lawsuit and the California Legislature’s response.
AB 934 supports effective teachers and prioritizes quality in California’s public education system. It requires teacher tenure decisions to be based on demonstrated quality of instruction, not just time spent in the classroom, and extends the probationary period from the current 18 months to a minimum of three years. And in addition to providing additional support to teachers who are identified to be struggling in the classroom, AB 934 explicitly includes ineffectiveness as grounds for dismissal for those who fail to improve — while maintaining and respecting due process rights. The bill also changes the state’s layoff system to generally prioritize quality of instruction over years spent in the classroom.
RALLY was able to successfully leverage statewide and national attention to win over policymakers and urge them to act. Vergara, for the first time, truly challenged the status quo on California’s teacher employment laws and sparked a national conversation about what a public education system that puts the best interests of kids first can and should look like. The lawsuit garnered a wide array of support: from the former U.S. Secretary of Arne Duncan to the editorial boards of major outlets, including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. And supermajorities of California voters have signaled their support of the the basic tenets of Vergara. Finally, after decades of legislative inaction, the Vergara case has opened up a new path for change through Sacramento.
RALLY manages the development and execution of the Students Matter’s legal and advocacy efforts, including earned media, case development, developing the organization’s brand, managing the organization’s advisory board and coalition of supporters and providing broad support to the organization’s efforts to advocate for a “kids first” public policy agenda.