That’s the path taken by California Assembly Democrat Susan Bonilla, who introduced a bill (AB 934) that would have revamped the state’s tenure and school employee evaluation laws. As you might expect, the teachers’ unions were opposed. So the amendments began.
Three times the bill was altered in an attempt to make it more palatable to the unions and their friends in the legislature. It was watered down to the point that it lost one of its key backers, Students Matter, the organization that filed the Vergara lawsuit. The final version that went before the Senate Education Committee would have increase the teacher probationary period from two years to three, but that’s about all.
Eager to extract something from the long and arduous process, Bonilla amended the bill yet again, forgetting about tenure, evaluations and probationary periods. The new bill simply reads:
Existing law requires the public school employer and the exclusive representative, upon request of either party, to meet and negotiate regarding causes and procedures for disciplinary action, other than dismissal, including a suspension of pay for up to 15 days, affecting certificated employees.
This bill additionally would require the public school employer and the exclusive representative, upon request of either party, to meet and negotiate regarding procedures for disciplinary action, including dismissal, based solely on unprofessional conduct or unsatisfactory performance, or both, affecting certificated employees.
In other words, unions would have to bargain dismissal procedures for unsatisfactory performance, if it were requested of them. That’s it.
Would this surrender to the collective bargaining process be enough to assuage the wrath of the teachers’ unions?
The new version was introduced Monday and by yesterday California Teachers Association activists had already received an alert warning them of it. “Can you imagine the impasses, the bargaining crisis and the impacts on our students if this is allowed to go forward?” it cried.
In the highly unlikely event Bonilla’s bill makes it out of the Senate Education Committee, it still needs approval by the Senate Rules Committee, which is chaired by Kevin de León.