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May 19, 2016

Will Wolf Side with Bad Teachers?

Pennsylvania is one of only six states to use teacher seniority as the only factor considered when making layoff decisions. On May 9th, the Senate passed HB 805 to correct this problem.

Commonly referred to as “last in, first out” or “LIFO”. A seniority-based system often results in the most effective teachers being let go. According to the co-sponsorship memo, the most effective teachers are laid off 80 percent of the time. This is why we see so many stories about a “teacher of the year” being laid off for budget reasons.

Representative Stephen Bloom, the prime sponsor of the legislation and a CAP member, summed the up the situation in a recent interview:

“Pennsylvania has an archaic law that says if a school district would need to furlough teachers for economic reasons, they cannot let go of the teachers that are the worst performing teachers. Instead, they have to go by blind seniority,” said Rep. Stephen Bloom (R-Cumberland), who sponsored the bill. “It’s about time that our local school districts would have the ability to make a smart, rational decision to make sure the best teachers are in the classrooms with the kids.”

Despite the absurdity of the LIFO system, Governor Wolf has indicated that he will veto the legislation. If he follows through with that threat, the Governor will once again be siding with the teachers’ union. Wolf has repeatedly stated that one of his goals is to have “schools that teach.” If that is truly the case, how can he not be for schools having the ability to consider teacher performance in the unfortunate event of layoffs?