Students Win as California’s AB 5 Fails

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Students in California scored a victory recently with the demise of AB 5, a bill that would have pushed the state backward on both teacher evaluations and accountability for basic education. If enacted, the bill would have weakened California’s requirements for teacher evaluations by not meaningfully including student, parent, and community feedback or factoring in student progress and achievement. Such a change would have left the state unable to meet requirements set by the U.S. Department of Education for states seeking waivers from No Child Left Behind.

AB 5 faced strong opposition from those committed to helping all California students have access to strong teachers. A coalition of organizations including The Education Trust–West, The United Way of Los Angeles, the California PTA, and Families in Schools joined together to fight the bill. The National Council of La Raza opposed the bill on the national level.

In a statement opposing the bill, Arun Ramanathan, executive director of Education Trust–West, illuminated how AB 5 presented a blow to educational equity in California. “All students deserve access to effective teaching," Ramanathan wrote. "AB 5 will prevent reforms to our teacher evaluation system critical to closing our state’s achievement gaps.”

Additionally, editorial boards across the state opposed the bill. The San Francisco Chronicle called the bill’s demise good news for students noting that “it would have been a bad precedent and terrible policy.”

Effective teacher evaluations should help teachers identify strengths and areas for development as they work to improve their practice. Teachers in California, and all states, should get the best feedback possible by having evaluations that include multiple measurements, including student achievement.

—Dan Miller