Budget Cuts Pennsylvania Teachers

Facing a Budget Crisis, the Pennsylvania Legislature Makes It Easier to Fire Teachers

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Steven Singer hangs a dunce cap on Pennsylvania’s legislature. Facing a budget crisis, they voted to eliminate seniority and cynically called their bill “The Protecting Excellent Teachers Act.”

He writes:

“If you live in Pennsylvania, as I do, you must be shaking your head at the shenanigans of our state legislature.

“Faced with a school funding crisis of their own making, lawmakers voted this week to make it easier to fire school teachers.

“Monday the state Senate passed their version of an anti-seniority bill that was given the thumbs up by the House last summer.

“Thankfully, Gov. Tom Wolf is expected to veto it.

“As usual, lawmakers (or more accurately their surrogates at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) who actually wrote the bill) spent more time on branding the legislation than appealing to logic, sense or reason. The bill called HB 805 was given the euphemistic title “The Protecting Excellent Teachers Act.”

“Yes, this is exactly how you protect excellent teachers – by making it easier to fire them.

“Currently, if teachers are furloughed, those with least seniority go first. Under this new law, teachers would be let go based on their academic rating. Teachers can have one of four ratings: Distinguished, Proficient, Needs Improvement and Failing. Under the new legislation, teachers rated Failing would be furloughed first, followed by those under Needs Improvement, etc. Within those categories decisions would be made based on seniority.

“It sounds great – if you know absolutely nothing about Pennsylvania public schools.

“First off, in 2015 our rating system found 98.2% of state teachers to be in the highest two rating categories. So at best this bill is next to meaningless.

“Second, like virtually all value added rating systems across the country, our rating system is pure bull crap. It’s a complicated measure of meaningless statistics, student test scores and mumbo jumbo that can be twisted one way or another depending on the whims of administrators, dumb luck and the phases of the moon.”

Be sure to read Peter Greene’s take on this legislation.

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