California Proposition 74, Waiting Period for Permanent Employment as a Teacher (2005)

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California Proposition 74 was on the November 8, 2005 special statewide ballot in California as an initiated state statute, where it was defeated.

Proposition 74 would have changed the terms of employment for new public school teachers in California by imposing tougher standards. Their initial probationary period would have been extended from two years to five years. The dismissal procedures for existing teachers also would have been modified in a way that would have made it easier to discipline teachers. Under Proposition 74, two consecutive unsatisfactory performance evaluations would have constituted a level of unsatisfactory performance sufficient to dismiss permanent employees without having to additionally provide a mandatory 90-day period for the employee to improve his or her performance. A school board that wanted to dismiss an unsatisfactory teacher would also not have had to proovide as much initial documentation identifying specific instances of unsatisfactory performance, beyond that included in the evaluations themselves.

Campaign spending on Proposition 74 was very high, totalling over $90 million.

Proposition 74 was one of a quartet of ballot measures on the 2005 ballot that were the centerpiece of Arnold Schwarzenegger's reform plans for California, two years into his governorship. The other three were Proposition 75, Proposition 76 and Proposition 77. The defeat of all four Schwarzenegger measures is frequently cited as a turning-point in Schwarzenegger's governorship.

Election results

Proposition 74
Defeatedd No4,329,02555.2%
Yes 3,516,071 44.8%

Text of measure

The LAO inserted this historical overview of teacher probationary periods in California in the 2005 Voter Guide.


The ballot title was:

Public School Teachers. Waiting Period for Permanent Status. Dismissal. Initiative Statute.


The question on the ballot was:

"Should the probationary period for public school teachers be increased from two to five years, and should the process by which school boards can dismiss a permanent certificated employee be modified?"


The official summary provided to describe Proposition 74 said:

  • Increases length of time required before a teacher may become a permanent employee from two complete consecutive school years to five complete consecutive school years.
  • Measure applies to teachers whose probationary period commenced during or after the 2003-2004 fiscal year.
  • Modifies the process by which school boards can dismiss a permanent teaching employee who receives two consecutive unsatisfactory performance evaluations.

Fiscal impact

See also: Fiscal impact statement

The fiscal estimate provided by the California Legislative Analyst's Office said:

  • Unknown net effect on school districts' costs for teacher compensation, performance evaluations, and other activities. The impact would vary significantly by district and depend largely on future personnel actions by individual school districts.


Website banner from the Yes on Proposition 74 (archived) website


The official voter guide arguments in favor of Proposition 74 were signed by:

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • George Schulz, chair, Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors
  • Karla Jones, 2004 Educator of the Year, Orange County
  • Dr. Peter G. Mehas, Superintendent, Fresno County Office of Education
  • Hugh Mooney, teacher, Galt Union High School District
  • Lillian Perry, teacher, Fontana Unified School District[1]

Arguments in favor

Supporters of Proposition 74 made these arguments in its favor in the state's official voter guide:

  • "California schools used to be among the best in the nation. Unfortunately, we’ve gotten off track despite the fact that public school spending increased by $3 billion this year and represents almost 50% of our overall state budget. Instead of just throwing more of our hard-earned tax dollars at the problem, we need to get more money into the classroom and reward high-quality teachers instead of wasting money on problem teachers."
  • "Unfortunately, California is one of a handful of states with an outdated 'tenure' law that makes it almost impossible and extremely expensive to replace poor-performing teachers. According to the California Journal (05-01-99), one school district spent more than $100,000 in legal fees and ultimately paid a teacher $25,000 to resign. Another district spent eight years and more than $300,000 to dismiss an unfit teacher. Fighting the rules, regulations, and bureaucracy that protects unfit teachers squanders money that should be going to the classroom!"
  • "Today, even problem teachers are virtually guaranteed 'employment for life.'"
  • "We need to put more money into our classrooms, instead of wasting it on poor performing teachers, outrageous legal costs, and bureaucratic rules and regulations."[1]

Donors in favor

Map showing county distribution of Proposition 74 votes

$76,142,963 was contributed to the campaign in favor of a "yes" vote on Proposition 74, through three different campaign committees.

The three campaign committees registered in support of Proposition 74 were:

  • Citizens to Save California, Yes on Propositions 74 & 76
  • Schwarzenegger's California Recovery Team
  • Reform California, Yes on 74, 75 and 76

Each committee that registered in support of Proposition 74 also registered in support of other propositions in 2005 (particularly, Proposition 76.) Because of this, it is not possible to say with precision how much of the money raised or spent by these committees was particularly directed at promoting Proposition 74.[2]

Donors of $500,000 or more were:

Donor Amount
Arnold Schwarzenegger $7,750,000
Jerry Perenchio $3,750,000
William Robinson $3,700,000
Alex Spanos $2,011,430
Henry Nicholas $1,500,000
Ameriquest Capital $1,154,000
The New Majority $1,045,000
Wayne B. Hughes $1,000,000
California Republican Party $900,000
California Chamber of Commerce $646,096
Paul F. Folino $576,369
T. Boone Pickens, Jr. $550,000
T. Gary Rogers $510,000
John A. Gunn $500,000
Lawrence K. Dodge LKD Trust $500,000
Vail Drilling Co. $500,000


Actors Warren Beatty and Annette Bening along with teachers, nurses and firefighters at a rally to urge a "no" vote on Proposition 74. Image from the No on Proposition 74 (archived) website


The official voter guide arguments opposing Proposition 74 were signed by:

  • Barbara Kerry, then-president, California Teachers Association
  • Jack O'Connell, then the State Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • Nam Nguyen, a student teacher
  • Mary Bergan, then the president of the California Federation of Teachers
  • Monica Masino, president, Student CTA
  • Manuel "Manny" Hernandez, vice-president, Sacramento City Unified School District[1]

Arguments against

The arguments presented in the official voter guide opposing Proposition 74 were:

  • "It won’t improve student achievement and it won’t help reform public education in any meaningful way. Furthermore, it will cost school districts tens of millions of dollars to implement."
  • "Proposition 74 doesn’t reduce class size or provide new textbooks, computers, or other urgently needed learning materials. It doesn’t improve teacher training or campus safety. Nor does it increase educational funding or fix one leaking school roof."
  • "Existing state law already gives school districts the authority to dismiss teachers for unsatisfactory performance, unprofessional conduct, criminal acts, dishonesty, or other activities not appropriate to teaching—no matter how long a teacher has been on the job."
  • "We give criminals the right to due process, and our teachers deserve those fundamental rights, as well."
  • " researchers say that they know of no evidence to support the claim that lengthening the teacher probation period improves teacher performance or student achievement."[1]

Donors against

Total campaign cash Campaign Finance Ballotpedia.png
Category:Ballot measure endorsements Support: $76,142,963
Circle thumbs down.png Opposition: $14,474,449

The "No on 74" side spent $14,474,449 through four different campaign committees.[3]

Donors of $500,000 or more were:

Donor Amount
California Teachers Association $8,054,306
Alliance for a Better California $2,778,954
California Federation of Teachers $953,405
California Democratic Party $600,395

Probationary periods in other states

The California Legislative Analyst's Office prepared this chart for the 2005 voter guide to illustrate teacher probationary periods in other states.

Proposition 74 2005 chart.PNG

Path to the ballot

See also: California signature requirements

As an initiated state statute, 373,816 valid signatures were required to qualify Proposition 74 for the ballot. The petition drive for Proposition 74 was conducted jointly with the petition drives for Proposition 75, Proposition 76 and Proposition 77 by three different petition drive management companies.

The petition drive management companies involved were:

Altogether, the three companies were paid $7,876,472.40. Dividing this across the four propositions involved means that approximately $1,969,118.10 was spent collecting signatures on the individual propositions in the Schwarzenegger package.

See also: California ballot initiative petition signature costs

See also

External links

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