Thousands of teachers in California have been laid off in the past weeks, leaving us to wonder, “What about the quality of my child’s education?” The seniority-based layoffs have resulted in some of our best and brightest young teachers looking for work, while some ineffective teachers with seniority remain.
Laying off teachers based on seniority is absurd. The union is supposed to protect good teachers from bad administrators, but the seniority rule often protects bad teachers from being removed from the classroom and does nothing to make sure that only the most qualified teachers remain. No meaningful education reform will ever occur until it is performance that counts, not how long a person has been on the job.
During last week’s speech about how he will reform education, President Obama said, “From the moment students enter a school, the most important factor in their success is not the color of their skin or the income of their parents, it’s the person standing at the front of the classroom … .” If you agree, then pressure your local school districts and state representatives to not only cut wasteful bureaucratic spending to better fund classroom education, but also to reform teacher layoff procedures to retain successful teachers and more easily remove those who have lost their dedication to students long ago and are simply in line waiting for retirement. Our future depends on how well we prepare the next generation. It must be our top priority, even in tough economic times.