LCUSD, parents lobbied to kill bill

La Cañada Unified School District board of education members are crediting the community for helping spike a state Assembly proposal that would have eliminated student test results as a measure of teacher performance.

Backed by several large teachers unions, AB 5, a bill sponsored by Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes (D-Sylmar) would have trumped a recent judicial decision that the Los Angeles Unified School District must include student scores in annual teacher reviews.

Members of school boards throughout California — including all five LCUSD board members — expressed concern that AB 5 would erode their ability to maintain their districts' quality of education. Moreover, a national education reform movement suggests test scores, along with many other indicators, are needed to meaningfully evaluate teachers.

Last week, the LCUSD governing board unanimously passed a resolution opposing AB 5 and asked supporters to let legislators know the bill would make bad law.

“We, the board, mobilized our local education community to oppose legislation AB 5,” LCUSD board President Scott Tracy said. “As a result of that mobilization, parents made their voice heard, and that legislation was killed.”

School board members also reached out to state Sen. Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge), a former La Cañada Flintridge City Council member who has made education one of her top issues. A member of the Senate Education Committee, Liu joined a 6-2 majority ruling that sent the bill to another committee for review. The bill was withdrawn before the measure came for a full vote of the Senate.

“It was important to get to her specifically to express our concerns about AB 5,” Tracy said. “And I think it was important for the community to express its concern so she was in a position to pose the right questions.”

School board member Andrew Blumenfeld reached out to his email subscribers to urge they help defeat the bill and thanked them after AB 5 was withdrawn.

“The pressure from special interests to ram this through in the 11th hour was tremendous,” Blumenfeld wrote. “But your messages and phone calls helped make the difference and stopped this terrible bill from becoming law.”

Tracy was impressed that his fellow board members put aside their differences to defeat AB 5.

“School boards are nonpartisan, and yet individually they are made up of Democrats and Republicans,” Tracy said. “We're all united on the goal, the purpose of education. We all came to the same conclusion. This isn't a partisan issue. This is right for kids.”

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