There is much discussion and activism happening around a teacher effectiveness bill (House Bill 1722) that recently was voted out of the state House Education Committee. The bill simply states if school districts have to furlough teachers because of economic reasons, they would have to consider more than seniority.
Districts would also have to take into account teacher effectiveness, as monitored by new evaluations implemented this past school year.
I have opposed the three years of Corbett-Republican school funding cuts that have caused these layoffs. However, I want to ensure that when school districts have to make these awful decisions, the best-rated teachers will be the ones who stay on.
Economically disadvantaged children and children of color often get the short end of the educational stick.
Their schools suffer more from cuts than more affluent schools within the same district, because challenged schools start further behind.
Challenged schools already have to fight to attract more effective teachers with seniority — often unsuccessfully because their seniority allows them to have their choice of schools or classes. In addition, when cuts come, senior teachers can bump less senior teachers who may be more interested and committed to educating children in a challenged school.
Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania have many wonderful teachers, but this debate shouldn’t be about a litmus test or about what’s best for adults. It should be about providing a quality education to all of our kids.
I will continue to support moving the children’s needs to the highest priority.
REP. JAKE WHEATLEY
The writer, a Democrat, represents the 19th District in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.