Will Felipe Fuentes and Gov. Jerry Brown Water Down Teachers' Evaluations?

California's education reform wars are popping up again -- this time over a controversial bill called AB 5, which reform activists say will water down teachers' evaluations.

The grassroots group EdVoice has taken a full-page ad in today's A section of the Los Angeles Times to sound the alarm and get people to call Sacramento legislators and Gov. Jerry Brown to shoot down the bill. It's authored by Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, who has a reputation as being one of the worst legislators in the state capital.

"If your state representatives cave to special interests and pass AB 5 by Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes," the EdVoice advertisement reads, "then student learning toward grade-level expectations won't even be part of the required conversation."

On the other side of this battle, the California Teachers Association, the politically connected union that holds sway over many a Democratic legislator in Sacramento, is pushing for the bill.

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No surprise there. Teachers unions have long despised evaluations of its members, although education reform advocates say it's an invaluable way to hold teachers accountable for their work with students.

"It may seem like common sense for schools to consider how well kids are learning when evaluating teachers in the classroom," the EdVoice ad states. "It's not common sense for Sacramento politicians."

It's also no surprise Fuentes, who represents neighborhoods in the San Fernando Valley, is behind the bill. L.A. Weekly noted in 2010 that the assemblyman is well-known for allowing special interest groups to ghost-write bills for him.

For the 2007-08 legislative session, San Jose Mercury News reporter Karen de Sa found that 10 of Fuentes' 24 bills were "sponsored," or actually written, by a special interest.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.


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