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    Class Size Reduction

    Small class sizes are key to improving student learning. UTP believes that small class sizes allows for the optimum development of a student’s potential and ensure individual attention to each student. 

    A reasonable goal for California’s class size is a program that places California in the upper quartile of low class sizes in the United States. Right now, California has the largest class sizes in the country. 

    CTA fought to establish the state’s current Class Size Reduction program, which limits class sizes to 20 students in kindergarten through third grade. That program must be expanded to all grades. 

    Research proves smaller classes improve student learning. According to a June 2002 study by the Public Policy Institute of California, five of the state’s largest school districts reported significant test score gains since the state’s class size reduction program began. Third-grade test scores increased 14% in math and 9% in reading in schools with mostly low-income students. 

    Smaller classes are especially vital for high-need students. Class size reduction in the L.A. Unified School District increased reading scores by 9.5%, math scores by 13.9% and language scores by 14.5%, according to an April 2001 study by Vital Research. The effects of class size reduction for “high-need” children are nearly double those of children in educationally advantaged neighborhoods – reading scores increased by 19.5%, math scores by 29.2% and language scores by 22.5% for high needs students. 

    Parents and teachers know smaller class sizes work. Smaller classes mean students are getting more valuable one-on-one attention from teachers – leading to higher academic performance. In addition, more than 70% of voters believe reducing class sizes is a very effective way to improve public schools.

    • Class Size Does Matter

      There is clear evidence that the positive effect of CSR is even more prominent in schools serving predominantly low-income students.
    • CSR: A Proven Reform Strategy

      The proven long-term benefits of reducing class sizes should help determine our priorities.

    School Success

    Dispelling the Myth of the "Schools Suck Industry"

    With all the talk of education "reform" by pundits, it is a good time to look beyond the conventional “schools are failing” clichés, because despite dwindling resources, California educators and students are making great strides.

    John Mockler, former executive director of the state Board of Education and author of Prop 98, the state’s minimum school funding law, recently reported that California schools are doing a lot better than most of us are being told. He says "They are not categorically failing, are not deeply flawed, and that anyone who claims otherwise is peddling drivel."  And he's armed with data, such as:  

    • In 1999, 31% of the state’s schools scored 700 or above on the API; in 2009 77% did. In the same period, schools scoring 500 or below declined from 29% to less than 3%.
    • Between 2003 and 2010 the percentage of students who read at proficient or advanced levels increased from 35%  to 52%; for Latino students, the gain was from 20% to 40%; for African Americans, the gain was from 22% to 39%. Math scores showed similar gains.

    Read more


      Review presentation materials [PDF
      Listen to the audio file [MP3]


    Parent Trigger

    Parent Trigger Laws Ignite Controversy, not Parent-School-Community Collaboration

    Described by advocates as a citizen initiative to balance the power between parents, school administrators, and educators in the school reform process, “parent trigger” laws are being advocated as a “silver bullet” that cuts through the complexities of the “education establishment” and gives parents new, formal, legal power to fix their own children's schools.

    California, Mississippi, and Tennessee enacted “parent trigger” laws in 2010. In California, the parent trigger law allows 51% of parents with children attending a “low performing” school to sign a petition and force actions such as closing the school down completely, replacing the principal, firing 50% of the teachers, or converting it into a charter school.

    Parent Empowerment or Trojan Horse?

    Some parents, policy analysts, and journalists question the genuineness of “parent trigger” legislation, contending that such policy is being misused to promote the growth of charter schools. There is also growing evidence that funding for many of the “parent trigger” initiatives comes from wealthy philanthropists, policymakers, and think tanks that support charter school expansion and free market approaches to school reform. A January 2011 Los Angeles Times editorialconcluded that the “Parent trigger must not become a means for private charter groups to get free school buildings through secret proceedings.”

    Parent-School-Community Partnerships are the Antidote to “Parent Triggers”

    UTP collaborates with schools and the District to:

    • Establish effective, two-way communications with families of all backgrounds
    • Partner with families to promote positive student outcomes and support strategies to reach school improvement goals
    • Engage all school personnel in promoting family-school-community partnerships
    • Support passage of laws and policies and/or collective bargaining agreements that provide funding and resources to support solutions that work.

    UTP believes that school reform is a shared responsibility and supports policies and practices that link schools, families, and communities to achieve improvement goals.


    Due Process

    Myths about Due Process

    Current misconceptions regarding the law have created several myths about tenure, popularly held, but all false. Paramount among these are:

    MYTH #1: “There is a tenure law in California for K-14.”

    The truth is, California dismissal law doesn’t refer to tenure. The concept of tenure as it developed in the medieval university has no connection with current practice, which provides only dismissal procedures guaranteeing due process rights and pertinent reasons for dismissal actions. Tenure has become a popular term used as a scapegoat for the real problems, which are ineffective evaluation of instruction, poor administrative practices, and inadequate investment by the public schools in experimentation, research and development, and in-service education.

    MYTH #2: “Tenure is a lifetime guarantee of employment.”

    The truth is that teachers have permanent status, not tenure. Within permanent status there is a procedure for dismissing teachers which guarantees due process and impartial consideration of the facts when disagreement about the facts exists.

    MYTH #3: “You can’t fire a tenured teacher in California.”

    The truth is that teachers are fired every year under the dismissal laws in California. In addition, when difficulties in dismissing teachers arise under the law, it is inadequate application of the law by administrators, and not the law itself, that is at fault.

    MYTH #4: “Tenure is designed to protect teachers.”

    The truth is that due process was developed and exists primarily to protect pupils and schools from political, social and economic interference with pupils’ right to a continuing program of quality education. The major function of due process is to insist that decisions about the quality of instruction in the schools be based on educational reasons, rather than on prejudicial or inappropriate selfish reasons.

    MYTH #5: “Tenure protects the incompetent teacher.”

    The truth is that California Teachers Association policy for many years has insisted that “Evaluation Is the Key to Excellence.” Where sound evaluation practices exists, it is the teacher whose inadequacies are identified and who is most affected by the need to improve, or in the absence of improvement, will be dismissed under due process provisions. Therefore, due process is a mechanism for evaluation of instruction which exposes rather than protects incompetence.

    MYTH #6: “A good teacher doesn’t need tenure.”

    The truth is that teachers who perform satisfactorily need the protection of due process and it is the competent teacher who is most needed to maintain and improve the quality of education for pupils. Every educational employee is entitled to due process. The broad spectrum of instructional practices require that differing methodologies require equal protection guaranteed under California laws. The competent teacher needs the due process laws!

    From CTA’s “Evaluation: Key to Excellence” (2005)

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