California has defiantly refused to follow the administration’s lead in grading the performance of teachers and using those measurements to reward the best teachers and punish the worst. The state is one of very few that have told Washington that under no conditions will it put in place the type of teacher evaluation system Obama has championed.As a result, the administration has not given California a waiver from the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind law, leaving thousands of local schools exposed to expensive federal sanctions.
The pushback largely comes from the state’s teachers union, the California Teachers Asociation, which has a powerful grip on state bureaucrats. Without a waiver, the state will be forced to close failing public schools and spend millions tutoring students and shuttling them to better performing districts. In a rare move, the administration has allowed nine California districts to submit requests for waivers independent of the state.California has one of the worst performance records in the country. The state ranked 46th in student reading and math performance on the 2011 National Assessment of Education Progress. And it also earned a C on student achievement, regulations for teachers and measures of equity on Education Week’s latest annual Quality Counts report.Now the state’s teachers union is going to extremes to protect seniority privileges for failing teachers. Either union leaders haven’t read the school system’s abysmal report card, or they just don’t care.[California image courtesy of Shutterstock]