Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past few years, you know that education funding continues to be cut and teachers continue to be laid off. This year is one of the worst yet, and guess what? Being a good teacher–even a great teacher–can’t protect you.
In fact, Sacramento’s “Teacher of the Year,” Michelle Apperson, was laid off as a part of this year’s massive budget cuts. She was deemed to be among the best this year, and now she will face unemployment.
This travesty is a direct result of California’s (and many other states) seniority layoffs laws, which protect those who have seniority over those who may be newer (Sidenote: In my own district in San Diego, almost 1600 teachers are to be laid off, some with 10 years of experience. That’s how serious the budget cuts are). This law is absolutely ridiculous, especially at a time where the stakes of education are continuously being raised. Teachers are being asked to do more and more, to perform better, to yield better results, and yet class sizes are being increased while funding is being decreased.
Allowing someone with seniority to keep his or her job while someone who has fewer years of experience is laid off is not the most effective way to ensure the quality of our education. While there is something to be said for experience, it is also valid to acknowledge that 20 years of experience does not an outstanding teacher make. There are plenty of mediocre, good, or horrible teachers that have been doing their jobs for many years, just as there are many outstanding and phenomenol teachers who have been doing there jobs only a few years.
It is time to stop this ineffective way of eliminating and cutting the fat.
Why are we not fighting to keep the teachers who are most effective? Why are we continuing to expect more and more out of our schools when we are not necessarily protecting those who will do the best job? Why aren’t we running our schools more like businesses and figuring out the most effective and efficient way to see results?
I know I should be grateful that my union and the laws have allowed me to escape the past few years without receiving a pink slip, and I am. I also know, however, that there are some phenomenol teachers who will not have jobs next year while some who are less effective will continue to “coast” at their jobs. I, as an educator, would like to see people keeping their jobs based on performance, not seniority. This is what’s best for our kids and, after all, isn’t that what it’s all about?
image via WikiCommons