June 16 2012

Sacramento School Boots Teacher of the Year

Vicki E. Alger

California Teachers Association policies hurt students and the state. The local Los Angeles union, United Teachers Los Angeles, insists student learning gains should not be part of teachers’ evaluations (even though it’s the law). And, the inability to fire bad teachers has been a drag on California schools and students for years. Add to that (growing) list the fact that teachers union policies valuing time served more than teaching students means great teachers like Sacramento’s Michelle Apperson are easier to force out. Referred to as last-hired, first-fired, this policy has drawn intensifying crtiticism. EAGnews reported, “Absurd teachers union work rules have claimed the career of another talented young educator who just happens to be Sacramento’s reigning ‘Teacher of the Year.’” It continued, noting:
 

Elementary teacher Michelle Apperson finished her ninth and final year with the Sacramento Unified School District…after being notified last month that her job was being eliminated due to a budget shortage. “It’s an awful situation,” said district spokesperson Gabe Ross, according to News10.net.  “It’s another sign of how education’s funding really needs an overhaul.” Ross is only half right: It’s an awful situation, but it is caused by antiquated and nonsensical union work rules – not by a lack of education funding. It’s true that the district is facing a $43 million budget deficit, and needed to downsize its teaching staff. But it’s the teacher union’s “last in, first out” policy – which requires layoffs to be based on a teacher’s length of service rather than effectiveness – that forced this much-loved teacher out the door. …Scrapping seniority protections would not only benefit students, but it would treat teachers as the professionals they are. The unions argue that all educators are exactly the same, but even elementary age children know that isn’t so. Just ask Apperson’s former students. 

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