Jack Scott was stunned that principals in ailing schools would be forced to hire teachers they didn’t want. Three years ago, when he was a state senator, he crafted a new law to lessen it: Principals in struggling schools couldn’t be forced to take teachers who chose to transfer in. Schools could choose any teacher who wanted to transfer there after April.

The California Teachers Association fought it and lost. Some of the new rules are still being bargained with teachers, but under an agreement with its union, San Diego Unified now allows schools with low scores to hire anyone they want during an initial round of hiring. The local rules give them even more flexibility than the California law.

But while the law seems to solve the problems that many principals complain about in the teacher transfer system, it hasn’t always caused the dramatic changes Scott had hoped for in disadvantaged schools.

In San Diego, many principals say it did little to change their hiring.

Changing the law fell short for two reasons: California schools with low scores can still be forced to hire teachers who are bumped involuntarily from other schools. San Diego tried to head off that problem by putting stricter rules in place, but schools can still be assigned teachers during a second round of hiring.

The second, larger reason is that many struggling schools still have few applicants to choose from anyway, because few teachers seek to work there.  And that is more likely to happen to the same schools that Scott was trying to help.


Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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