June 14th, 2012
04:00 PM ET

District's 'Teacher of the Year' laid off

by John Martin, CNN

(CNN) - As many as 33,500 teaching jobs nationwide have been lost since September, according to a recent analysis by the Washington Post. Sutterville Elementary School 6th grade teacher Michelle Apperson joined the ranks of those unemployed educators when she was laid off by the Sacramento City Unified School District.

Apperson isn't a new teacher, and she's not considered the bottom of the barrel. She taught at Sutterville for nine years, and was selected as this year's Teacher of the Year for the entire district. That distinction did not prevent Apperson's pink slip.

The district was facing a $43 million budget shortfall, which it addressed in part through cuts in its workforce – including teachers. A district spokesperson said the way teacher layoffs are handled is mandated by state law, and that the layoffs were based on seniority. Gabe Ross, the district's spokesman, called the situation "awful" and said, "It's another sign of how education's funding really needs an overhaul."

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    June 20, 2012 at 5:44 am |
  2. Mark

    I am a teacher of 7 years and have taught in both union and non-union states. I'd be the first to say that unions have too much power at times, but can serve a purpose as well. I'm currently in a non-union state and have dealt with the same issues most private sector, non working middle class people have had to deal with, layoffs, furlough days and deep cuts in benefits. So first of all I take exception to those that think government employees don't know what the trials and tribulations of those in the private sector are dealing with. Teachers are also expected to do more while being provided less in resources. My wife and I also spend quite abit of money for our students, because parents and families either can't afford or don't choose to purchase for their children. We're expected to take students who in most cases do not want to be there and teach them a subject they're not interested in. And we are evaluated on how they do on some standardized test that some will choose to "christmas tree" or guess just so they can be finished and put their head down. These tests cover a curriculum which in the span of the last 5 years, has changed 3 times, which is kind of like having one's job responsibilities change. Teachers deal with behavior issues, cell phones and other distractions each day. Some students regularly don't come prepared for class. These are the issues teachers face and the type of students whose success those same teachers are measured. In no other job I've been involved in, is the person training me measured on his or her ability to entertain me and keep me interested. I would be fired if I did not come prepared to my job, if I acted disrespectfully, or just plain didn't try. Yet teachers are supposed to deal with it, and keep trying, and that's what we do with a smile on our face. I'm not saying I don't like what I do, but I do say it's a challenge, and one that is unique, and thankfully I am a part of a school that is supportive and understanding of that. Are there issues with funding of public schools and public schools in general? Yes, but not all those issues should be put at the feet of teachers.

    June 18, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • mcannata

      While most people would think it noble... I think teachers that spend their own money on students and school supplies are not helping the situation. You are only enabling the school administrators to avoid taking responsibility for providing such items.

      That's what we pay taxes for. It's a futile gesture to throw your own money at a problem far too big for your wallet. Better to invest your time and start some sort of civil action and get the students to fight alongside you.

      June 18, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
      • Jen

        I completely agree. It saddens me to see how much funding has been cut, and it really stinks that the students are the ones that are losing out, but it should not be a teacher's responsibility to make up for governmental shortcomings. My hope is that it will stop, and although the students would suffer more, hopefully it would bring about some change.

        It just makes me so angry. How are our children supposed to get ahead when they are shortchanged from the beginning?

        June 18, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Dave

      I understand your concern regarding the degree of understanding that the public has regarding school teachers. However, I believe you have a misunderstanding of what happens in a similar vein in the private sector. I have been working in the private sector for 32 years. I have no union. I have no spokesperson other than me. I have provided hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in my own money for my own supplies, lunch allowance for staff working on weekends, etc. etc. I am a bit worn out by hearing how much teachers sacrifice in todays educational system. If it is so bad, then go into the private sector and work for charter schools or religious schools.

      June 18, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
  3. mojoquasi

    All of life is a series of births, existence, then death. It's a cycle everything must go through, without exception. That includes groups and societies as well as individuals. And when existence ceases to thrive and decay sets in there is nothing in the world that can stop it. The only variable is the time allotted. We have had our time, and now we are on our way out. Deal with it. It's only part of life..

    June 18, 2012 at 8:12 am |
  4. Jdevil1735

    This is exactly the type of thing that Christie is fighting against the NJEA about. He wants to eliminate the practice of laying off people based on seniority and instead have it based on performance. To ma y times New Jersey loses the good teachers while keeping the bad teaches just because someone has been on the job longer. The NJEA is vehemently opposed to this. But remember – they keep saying "It's all about the kids" yeah right!

    June 17, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • mckay21

      @jDevils1732,
      Let's have no protection for veteran experienced teachers,right?...the mayors kid graduates, vet educator goes..HOW ABOUT FUNDING SCHOOLS! and keep our teachers?

      June 18, 2012 at 6:50 am |
      • citizen18574

        What are you talking about? There would still be protection for veteran teachers. It would be called being good at their job, and everybody else in the world is afforded the same protection in their line of work.

        June 18, 2012 at 9:01 am |
    • Dave

      The trick, and it isn't at all easy or done well anywhere, is to be good at reliably distinguishing levels of performance. I assure you, when principals/colleagues/test scores/etc. are left to judge performance, they'll be wrong nearly as many times as the current system is.

      June 18, 2012 at 8:02 am |
  5. patw2100

    Good. Once less liberal to corrupt our children.

    June 17, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • saopaco

      You fancy yourself a wit, apparently. You are half right.

      June 17, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Jdevil1735

      How do you know she was liberal? I didn't see them state her political persuasion. I personally don't care if she is liberal or not – just as long as she isn't having her students sing "Kumbaya Obama".

      June 17, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • Leif

      What's wrong patw2100? Are you still upset about that F in English? It's "one", not "once".

      June 17, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • 2yossarian2

      Is that the super-smart conservative spelling of one?

      June 17, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • Brian

      What an awful thing to say. Have you come to so hate "liberals" that you would assume this teacher was corrupting children? The liberal policies that have created this system of layoffs based on seniority are absolutely horrible. But, to say such a mean, base comment shows you have little heart to even consider an issue. I really feel sorry for you. Just an awful statement. (Please do not call me "liberal.")

      June 17, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • Dave

      How in the world do you deduce that this person is liberal? Take a Xanax and turn off Fox News ... your intelligence will thank you for it.

      June 18, 2012 at 7:59 am |
    • Chris

      Idiot. Put your head back in the sand and shut up.

      June 18, 2012 at 8:06 am |
    • Dm

      You just assume all teachers are liberals? Making blanket generalizations makes one no better than those they are criticizing...

      June 18, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • Bob

      Did you mean “One”? Guess you were educated by a conservative.

      June 18, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
  6. TW

    Hero today. Gone tomorrow

    June 17, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  7. Jt_flyer

    See? Alll we have to do is cut education and our country can survive for now. Future you ask? What future?

    June 17, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
  8. James Asante

    Frankly my dear people, if you are a parent, it's your responsibility to educate your children. Then as a society we all need to invest in children's education. It's not funding it's unions no matter how you cut it.

    June 17, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  9. Jon

    Well, at least the transnational corporations and the super-rich are still raking in the big bucks, and that's what's most important to preserving our American way of life. USA! USA! USA!

    June 17, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • Jimbo

      USA USA USA USA USA

      June 17, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  10. JimfromBham

    @ Randy

    Your problem is not your principal – it's you. After all, your so-called "150 lazy kids" wouldn't be that way if you inspired them to excell. A different 150 kids will not be the solution to your problem. BTW – I have a difficult time as a tax payer when a teacher cannot use correct grammar – "as me" should be "as I" because the word "me" is not being used as the object of the preposition "as". The rest of your paragraph rambled and sometimes made little sense. Too bad the English teacher did not win.

    June 17, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
  11. Joe

    Teachers are overrated and overpaid.

    June 17, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • Joseph Baker

      What deluded universe do you occupy? Teachers are so far from overpaid it's ridiculous. Get a clue before you spout ludicrous statements like that. And as for overrated, thanks to endless cutbacks and moronic Washington policies like No Child Left Behind, kids in this country rank far, far below many of their peers overseas in virtually every academic sector.

      June 17, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Danny Vinson

      teaching is the most important profession to our future and if you check the real salaries they are grossly underpaid, most jobs requiring that level of education pay much higher, unless your teachers weren't required to know the subjects they were teaching, which in your case is extremely possible. if you just figure the hours and number of children per class at the $3.00/hr per child babysitting fee most teachers would earn well over the 100k mark which is more than double the actual rate

      June 17, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • Michael

      Don't plan them for your faults though.

      June 17, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • Dm

      Hey Joe, let's be fair- let's ask your teachers what they thought of you as a student.

      June 18, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  12. twiz123

    And this is precisely why the government should be allowed to run as little of this country as possible and have as little input into our lives as possible. Assuming there is nothing important left out of this article and all of the facts are correct, this is the perfect example of why Libertarians are right. Government run programs, departments, services...they all get too big and out of touch. Keep it local and these kinds of things become much less likely.

    June 17, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • Aeromechanic

      Nothing you said is true.

      June 17, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
  13. Hasai

    Let me guess: The standard NEA seniority-only labor contract, and Ms Apperson had less seniority than some old lump who barely bothers to show up for work.

    June 17, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • Aeromechanic

      No, the contract assumes that teaching ability is equal and then seniority governs.

      There is a probabtionary period as well as severl years where teachers do not hav ewhat is known as tenure. If a teacher is deemed non-satisfactory they can be released during that time with no questions asked. Evidently the teachers who gain tenure were deemed satisfactory.

      June 17, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
  14. Jeremy

    Just because a teacher has degrees, certifications, a ton of years teaching... does not automatically mean that they are the best teachers out there like some have suggest. It's like leadership.. some people are born natural leaders, and others just can't lead. You can go through the motions of teaching students, but being there for 30 years with a Masters or PhD doesn't make you the best teacher, there could be far better that have only been there a few years.

    Answer is simple.. Pay for performance.. If you can't perform, there's the door. And continuing education for all teachers is a must. If teachers salaries are based on the performance of their students, then they are more inclined to be more involved. No teacher tenure. Need to get rid of the garbage teachers.

    June 17, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • JimfromBham

      @ Jeremy

      "Pay for performance" is excellent in theory, but difficult to do. Who establishes the objective criteria to measure the performances? Who actually gets to score the performances and make the termination decisions? What should the criteria be, and how do we measure objective, rather than subjective, standards?

      June 17, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
      • MLewis

        Lol. How is performance measured in all other business disciplines? A 360 degree assessment by your peers and your end cliens (students/parents) is collected and your superior will then collect this data couple it with their own asessment and then make a SUBJECTIVE DECISION! Is it perfect – no but it would produce far better results hen what we have now- terrible teachers cannot be fired b/c they have seniority! The need to come up wih a decision making process that strips away subjective asessments is so ASININE it defies belief. What is currently in place is SO vastly inferior to what a reasonable person cancome up with. Unions are shooting their own membership in the foot by protecting he worst of the worst. They will lose this fight b/c hey are arguing AGAINST the public good.

        June 17, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • Aeromechanic

      What is "pay for performance"? Just giving all your students "As"? Would that look like I was a good teacher to those on the outside?

      June 17, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • Dave

      No doubt performance is important. But the notion of "paying for performance" is hardly as simple as it sounds. Managers and executives in most corporations are paid based on their perceived levels of performance. It's as much a popularity show as anything – in the end yielding little more than dissatisfaction and wasted money. It's nowhere near as simple as most make it sound – "pay for performance" is almost never the answer to a performance issue.

      June 18, 2012 at 8:06 am |
  15. Blackcurry

    Classic example of what's wrong with this country. Good teachers should be kept and the bad ones laid off. In fact, the bad ones should be fired. School board positions across this country are filled with idiots who don't give a damn about the kids. They care about getting re-elected and maintaining their "power". Most people, I believe, go to the polls and vote for a name they recognize, without taking the time to find out what these people are about. School board members should be identifying the good teachers and retaining them.....not laying them off. If they have to cut salaries, start with the bad or mediocre teachers.

    June 17, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Aeromechanic

      Thats ridiculous. Being teacher of the year is nothing more than a popularity contest.

      June 17, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  16. Kreece

    To be a "Teacher of the Year" the teacher has to apply for it. Submit their lesson plans in detail, that show all the bells and whistles that educators want to see: Does it have a definable GOAL the kids are supposed to reach for and achieve by the end of the day or lesson? Does it keep the interest of and engage the kids? Have real-life application? And is the learning from it testable/measurable? I don't have time for that! I set my standards, tell my students THIS is what I expect and WHY they need to know it AND I even layer into the work, skills they will need to know how to do for other classes...I tell them EVERYTHING I make them do is for a reason and NOT a waste of time AND it will make them better, more thorough learners. I tell them that they may not like me, but they WILL miss me AFTER they have moved on because they will always look back and say: "I learned that in his class and I STILL use it!" I don't need some award to make me feel good. The occasional student will let me know that they "see it" and appreciate it!

    June 17, 2012 at 9:39 am |
  17. Randy

    Being Teacher of the Year means very little, except it makes you feel good. It's all about who is more popular. I considered myself a pretty good teacher in a building with 100 others. But I'd say 1/2 of them were just as good as me , if not better. I won in a vote 49-48 against the English teacher and the principal , who couldn't stand me , had to give me the award. The next year he put me on growth plan, saying that I was failing as a teacher because 25% of my lazy kids had an F in my class one six weeks. When he asked me what happened and how can we fix this, I told him to give me 150 new kids, who weren't like the other 150 lazy ones. Then I got another job.

    June 17, 2012 at 8:17 am |
    • raw28

      So it was all the lazy kids that caused your poor performance? Right.

      June 17, 2012 at 9:02 am |
      • Sue

        No, it was THEIR lazy performance that cause THEIR F's.

        June 17, 2012 at 10:19 am |
      • Aeromechanic

        It doesn't sound like Randy was a poor teacher or had poor performance. If that was the case ALL of his students would have failed. The fact that they didn't means THEY were the problem.

        June 17, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  18. William

    Let us remember that she was laid off not on her merit, but tenure. I dont see why that is surprising to anyone. If we are ok with Unions running our schools we should be ok with the outcome.

    June 17, 2012 at 8:09 am |
    • Aeromechanic

      Unions don't run the schools. And teachers can be fired.

      I can't stand the misconceptions some of you people have. Just because you're in a union doesn't mean you can never be fired.

      June 17, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • Dave

      Unions don't run schools, ... sheez. I guarantee if unions were abolished today, you'd see the complexity of the problem better – and in many cases, find teachers organizing again to push for stability in their profession (vs. the whim of principals or the school board or other sometimes less-than-perfect power-brokers).

      June 18, 2012 at 8:12 am |
  19. aflarend

    So it seems like most people want to keep good teachers and fire bad ones. OK. So how do you do it without spending additional money? How do you do it fairly so it works across contexts of school socioeconomic status, grade level, academic level and subject since it is unfair to compare the rich district teacher with the poverty district since the teaching challenges are so different? And it can't be based only on test scores since they are heavily influenced by socioeconomic status. It must be objective. Seriously, how do you do it?

    June 17, 2012 at 7:38 am |
  20. sdffa11

    this country doesnt need education funding. they should have kept the best teachers and fired the bad ones. when you make dumb decisions like that, dont ask the american taxpayers for more money.

    June 17, 2012 at 1:26 am |
    • Rick Reinckens

      My mom worked for a school district for 25 years in the high school, a middle school and district administration. What the general public doesn't get is that ALL medium and large districts are hotbeds of school politics.

      There's a good reason why pay levels are based only on degrees and certifications held, number of additional college course hours, and number of years teaching–if bonuses, etc., were based on "merit", they wouldn't be given to the "best teachers", they would be given to the ones who spend their time kissing up to the administrators.

      And what would be the criteria to determine "best" teachers? The ones whose students score highest on tests because the teachers "teach to the test"? The ones whose students rate them high because the teacher is "cool"? The ones who build self-esteem by telling kids to "just do your best" even though the kids suck at something? The ones who give jocks grades they don't deserve so they'll qualify for a sport? The ones who push the high performers and pretty much let the others coast?

      June 17, 2012 at 3:03 am |
  21. Michael

    An American tragedy.

    June 17, 2012 at 12:33 am |
  22. Fed Up

    Maybe this teacher can be hired by Obama to tutor his daughters – maybe take a field trip to the zoo.

    June 16, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
  23. arceon

    And you're wondering why "Amercian" education is deteriorating. See what I did there?

    June 16, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • James

      It's not clever if you have to point it out.

      June 16, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
      • karen in texas

        If it wasn't pointed out, it would look like either a typo or someone who should have spent more time in school learning to spell. Appreciate it for what it was, don't be an as$ by being arrogant.

        June 16, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
  24. Shawn L

    The problem isn't the teacher unions, who protect teachers from being fired because they have seniority/more education and are paid more. Without this protection, districts would fire teachers who have been there a long time to save money, since new teachers are cheap. It has nothing to do with the quality of teachers, as most of the senior teachers are the best the school has to offer, while new teachers are still in potty training.

    The issue is, education funding is being cut dramatically, and where the money ends up. There is too much money go ing to administratration, and not enough money going to the classroom.

    June 16, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • Truth hurts

      There is always a point of diminishing return. A teacher of 38 years is certainly more experienced than a teacher of 1 year .. but after 4 or 5 years the question is how much more valuable is that teacher of 38 years? Unless an employee can show increased value, pay should stay the same. Increasing pay only due to "time served" does nothing but harm that employee's value, thus security.

      June 16, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
      • Dave

        Damn, ... had to read pretty far down to find a rational post.

        June 18, 2012 at 8:13 am |
    • Walter

      Oh please. The senior teachers are the best the school has to offer. The most senior teachers know that because of the union they can't be fired and they will always get their raises. Talk about lack of incentive. Senior teachers are most definitely NOT the best this school had to offer or one of these senior teachers would have been Teacher Of The Year.

      June 16, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
      • scb

        You have no idea whatsoever of the criteria upon which "Teacher of the Year" is awarded. To assume that the absolute best teacher always wins shows a lamentable lack of personal experience with awards of all kinds. This woman is undoubtedly a good teacher, but better in every way than every other teacher? Unlikely. She met the criteria this year and whomever was awarding the thing liked her the best. (You've applied for jobs, right? If you've ever hired anyone you know that most often you choose between qualified candidates based upon things like who will fit in best on the team. The idea that there is one "best" or that the "best" person wins is a fantasy.)

        June 17, 2012 at 3:13 am |
      • Big Cat Daddy

        Walter...The "extra" pay the teachers receive also helps them buy more supplies for their students because money allocated for education is not getting to the students. My wife retired from teachng after 35 years and always had something to say about having to buy supplies for her students. The system has failed the students let's not forget that. Administrative needs have hampered the money flow to the students and that's where the shame should be placed. Management of the money by the "higher ups" shows the greed and mismanagement of the needed funds so the teachers can educate. Don't get me started about TAKS testing...it doesn't work...when you have to teach ONLY TAKS education subjects, you stop developing the minds of tomorrow and it side-tracks the students abilities. Gifted and Talented classses are a thing of the past...we certainly need it to cultivate the kind of thinking our society will need for tomorrow. NO STUDENT LEFT BEHIND is a sham...they have all been abandoned.

        June 17, 2012 at 10:20 am |
      • Dave

        ... but only had to read the next post to see that simple generalizations were ruling the thread once again ...

        June 18, 2012 at 8:15 am |
    • pete c

      enough with the myth that education spending is being cut. Check the facts. We are spending more per pupil than ever, and getting less in return.

      June 17, 2012 at 8:02 am |
  25. drivennail

    Republicans would much rather gut their kids education so they can make a few more bucks.

    June 16, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Adam

      The unions need to change...your job should be based on your performance not seniority. If you were hiring someone, who would you hire? The best of the bunch or the worst? The union won't change.

      June 16, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
      • maroongrad

        It's not the newest teachers that are laid off. It's the teachers with master's and doctorate's degrees and with several years of teaching experience. Here, a teacher like that might cost as much as $50,000 year. A new teacher, just out of school, with only five years of coursework and a bachelor's degree, would be closer to $28,000/year. Older, more experience, more talented, more valuable teachers aren't as cheap as first-year starting teachers, so they get fired. Tenure doesn't exist in many districts and states, there is no job security, and the better you are the more likely you are to lose your job. A bad teacher, fired from other districts, desperate for a job, might be only half as much. And so those teachers are hired, and the "best" teachers go out the door.

        June 16, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
      • denise

        Adam, what makes you think that the other teachers are worst?

        June 16, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
      • zen paddler

        So when the CEO of banks make mistakes that collapse the economy their pay should go down and /or be fired? How can you profess this kind of talk for little people and ignore what the leader of our culture do. In Finland they invest a lot of money in teacher, only educating the best people to teach and they educate them without cost. There school systems are very successful.

        June 17, 2012 at 8:06 am |
  26. Tim

    I just wish there was similar outrage when we private sector schmucks get our pay cut, pensions taken away, plants closed and health insurance watered down. Seems like only government employees matter in terms of generating stories for public outrage. No one ever advocates for us, and neither does either party - Dems back government employees and unions, Republicans back Big Business and corporate employer interests - NO one represents middle class, private sector non-union labor.

    June 16, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • onceacpa

      You are right. While I wouldn't want to be in that teacher's shoes, there is no outrage when private sector, non-unionized employees are laid off (sometimes with as little as two weeks pay). It appears the middle class just isn't important enough to either side (or just can't afford to pay the lobbyists ;)).

      June 16, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • Jake

      Sounds like you should have joined a union. Sour grapes much?

      June 17, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
    • Mark

      So I guess the GM bailout and bank bailouts don't count?

      June 18, 2012 at 9:44 am |
  27. Martin

    "we don't need any more teachers" – Mitt Romney, June 2012.

    June 16, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • violetw

      He could be right... if people aren't having enough children to need the teachers... then we don't need more teachers. The thing is to BREED people BREED.

      June 17, 2012 at 1:00 am |
  28. TerryDactyl

    Here's the overhaul we need: get rid of the teacher's union and base whether a person keeps their job or not on merit. It's a crime to lose bright, motivated, and competent professionals for a lack of seniority. Our children are the losers when this happens and we are rewarding people for the wrong reasons.

    June 16, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Adam

      The Teacher's union...seniority but the worst teacher = job, best performance of the entire district = no job. The union is about the established teachers not the children. That's why education is going down hill in the US. Wouldn't you keep the best? That's how it works in the private sector.

      June 16, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
      • Solo

        This is the rationale of government agencies and employers, like the Postal Service – they made it their mission to hire a quota of minorities, and now we see how hard-working they are. Now, we're being asked to bail these clowns out too.

        June 16, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
    • SuperDave

      Exactly! Ths poor person lost their job because unions protect the lazy. She is victim to the ridiculous seniority rule.

      June 16, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • maroongrad

      And how would you judge "merit"??? It's the principal's and superintendent's job to hire good teachers, and the school board's job to hire a good superintendent. They are professionals and should be the best judge of which teachers are effective, and they should be allowed to determine extra pay based on merit. The teacher that volunteers to sponsor two clubs and that stays until 6 each evening to finish work, then takes it home for two more hours, that mentors and guides the new teachers, and who opens their classroom during their "plan period" to work with students that need the extra attention, THAT is a teacher that should be awarded for "merit." You want good teachers rewarded? Then back off, give that control to the supervisors of those teachers.

      June 16, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
      • Shawn L

        Correct. If a bad teacher is hired, that isn't the fault of the teachers at the school, that is the fault of a lazy, inept administration. I have watched inept teacher after teacher being hired and kept on by a lazy administration who don't get rid of them in their first two years because it's "too much work" to find a good teacher.

        June 16, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
      • aflarend

        Just because a teacher stays until 6pm does not mean they are effective. What about the teacher who has young children who need to be met at the bus or a sick parent? For all you know they work from home after the kids have gone to bed. Do you want the school administrators to make unannounced home visits? As far as clubs, they are often sponsored by young unmarried teachers and anyway, club sponsorship does make you better at helping kids learn. And club sponsor and teacher mentors already get extra pay in most places. Opening up your planning period is not automatically a sign of a good teacher. In fact it may lead to poorer preparation for classes. So how do you measure a teachers who is effective at helping students learn. We know that standardized tests designed to measure student learning are not effective at showing teacher effectiveness since student learning is influenced by many many factors. I like observations, but it must be at least 5-6, especially if it affects job status. But each observation requires a pre observation conference, the actual observation of at least 40 minutes, and the post observation conference, all of which can take up 4 hours or more which does not sound bad until you multiply it by the 50, 60, 100 teachers that an administrator would have to do. Then it is an incredibly huge chunk of the administrators time. IF that was all the administrator had to do, fine, but we all know it is not. So we would nee to hire another administrator or two just like school districts have to hire additional people to deal with NCLB requirements. There is a great teacher evaluation called the National Board CErtification, but it costs over $3,000. Can we afford that?

        June 17, 2012 at 7:17 am |
    • Shawn L

      You know not what you speak of. Unions aren't to blame, they protect teachers from losing their job simply because they get paid more than new teachers. Districts don't care at all about how good a teacher is, only the bottom dollar. If they can fire two excellent, 20 year veteran teachers to hire 3 fresh from college, barely know how to find the classroom teachers they will to save money

      June 16, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • aflarend

      So what is your evidence that newer teachers are better? As someone posted earlier, do you want the fresh out of college brain surgeon or the more experienced one? Why do companies specify how long they have been in business? Because experience makes you more effective! THere is hard evidence that a teacher's effectiveness, measured by test scores and more measures ( be cause it is research, they have more money to evaluate teachers) increases with experience. What is the hard, peer reviewed evidence that newbies are better?

      June 17, 2012 at 7:22 am |
  29. Solo

    It's not that big of an honor at the district level to be "teacher of the year" but even so, it's tough that teachers are losing jobs like everyone else. It's the result of minorities and illegals who pay zero taxes but expect free lunches and other funded programs flooding the school systems. It will continue to get worse and where will the money come from as more people lose jobs, not just teachers?

    June 16, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Bert

      Turn the channel away from Faux News once and a while. Jeez.

      June 16, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • PhDChick

      Sounds like you benefited little from the same educational system. Where is the proof of your position? Your uninformed opinion would enjoy little support outside of the internet, which attracts educated and ignorant PHDrespondents alike. Trouble is those with your mentality so outnumber those with intelligence.

      June 16, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
  30. independent71

    This is classwarfare on the middle class by the republicans. They claim that the there's classwarfare on the wealthy.. However, what about teachers who make nothing? Its sad to see this in America. The guys who brought this country to their knees are still going around and speculating and causing new bubbles. None of them are in jail.. Yet our wealthy friends want to punish the middle class and break it.

    June 16, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  31. Melanie

    I am more shocked by the fact that this is the first time in five years this story has been run on every major news source. A better story would research how many "Teacher of the Year," professionals are laid off yearly. Its not just one. In Pasadena Unified, the Teacher of the Year sat in a lay-off hearing with 50 other teachers, and then the next day accepted her award. Clearly the system needs to be changed. If news sources want to play a part in that, dig a little deeper. This didnt just happen to one Teacher of the Year in California.

    June 16, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
  32. studdmuffins

    The article implies that being teacher of the year somehow insulates one from layoff. Two different topics but it makes a great headline for those who only digest that much of an article then move on.

    No one ever breaches the topic of over-educated teachers. Why does it now take a Masters to gain full tenure in most systems? Does teaching the same subject over and over again truly need a graduate degree? No, though it does justify higher teaching salaries in every one of those systems. Teaching has become all about the system and teachers rather than students and learning.

    Teaching kids math, reading, writing and spelling does not take a grad' degree. It is time for a dose of reality in the teaching arts. Good teachers do not need state certified credentials, which is truly nothing more than a tax on teachers. They don't need anything more than a willingness to put up with your kids for days on end and the passion for their profession. Home schooling is proving that all those very expensive degrees are nothing more than grist for the university mills to justify higher salaries in "the system."

    June 16, 2012 at 5:39 am |
    • aflarend

      You misunderstand the job of being a teacher. Just because a teacher teaches 3rd does not mean that she only needs to know 3rd grade math. She/He needs to know a lot of math and math theory to make sure that they are not teaching only low level skills that are not productive to help kids learn the higher level math.
      Also, education degrees are mandated in most states to be only 4 year degrees. In those four years, teachers need to be content experts which for at least secondary ed majors means that they come close to earning a Bachelor's degree in their filed. In addition they need to learn how people learn not only in general, but in their context and subject area, which is a whole other degree. Usually the how people learn part gets cut short. Therefore that is learned in the Master's program. And of course, like other professions ( medicine, law, engineering, there is new information in the field and teacher need to continuously learn about.

      June 16, 2012 at 8:05 am |
      • Alex

        You misunderstand the process of learning. A third grader does not need to 'know' the scientific method or algebra or read on a 6th grade level. Children learn differently and at different speeds. Teachers are forced, by financing rules etc., to 'teach the test' and are completely missing the mark on educating our youth. The number of high school graduates who can barely read, can't do simple math, and cannot logically defend their positions on ideas, are simply staggering...I see them every day.

        America wants to compete with other countries whose children are 'more advanced' than ours but politicians fail to understand that what sets those other countries apart from the United States is culture. Strong social norms requiring familial honor and excellance help to 'program' children towards seeking excellance...not the American way of trying to motivate our children with false awards, emtpy rewards, and mindlessly extolling the idea that we should strive to find a career that makes us happy.

        We cannot hope to compete by trying to produce clones...we need to cultivate the ability to reason, not regurgitate.

        You can't plant mushrooms and peaches next to each other and expect them both to florish.

        June 16, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • MCJNY

      Wow. All of that writing to attempt to justify laying off an excellent teacher to our children. Still doesn't make even the slightest rational sense unless you don't want american children getting good education instruction. Then this makes perfect sense.

      June 16, 2012 at 8:59 am |
      • Kate

        And that gets us into the politics of it. An article a short while ago described how religious folk were complaining that when their children go to college they start questioning their religiuos beliefs and some even leave the religious system in which they were brought up. So higher education can be scary for some parents (and politicians.) Generally speaking, higher education produces more nuanced and liberal thinking. Lack of education produces those who respond to fear-based messages.

        June 16, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
      • Bert

        You just outlined the GOP plan for America: dumb down the voters so they'll be more willing to buy into their lies and propaganda. GOP wants an electorate of surfs, who look to the elite for everything to be handed down like manna from heaven. Odd, they don't want people to be dependent on government, but it's okay to be dependent on the wealthy elite. The GOP just wants to destroy America – period.

        June 16, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • Naturalista

      I'd like to say that there is so much more to being a teacher than being a glorified baby sitter. If you teach, you have to consider so many things: what level your students are learning at, how you can bring multicultural perspective into the classroom, helping students with special needs, and how to make sure every student is understanding the material. And that's before you even think about what you need to teach them, how you will present and evaluate it, and how you can meet the standards to ensure those students do well.

      As for state tests, these are necessary so that students can have teachers who actually know how to read, write, and do math! It's not enough to be passionate. You have to know what you are teaching and you have to know how to teach. As for Master's degrees, they are not just a raise in salary. I had an undergraduate degree that has nothing to do with the subject I want to teach. My pursuit of a Master's degree will get me the knowledge I need to give my students the best possible education. I am a life-long learner. I will never stop learning how to be a better teacher, because my students deserve the best.

      I think home schooling is all well and fine. It's a choice that people have the luxury to make.

      June 16, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • Maribeth

      So science doesn't not change? Geography does not change? Discoveries aren't made everyday? I am 56 years old and the last time I had a spelling or reading class was in grade school. After that it was called English and English never changes? Authors don't die and new authors aren't born? Why wouldn't you want the most educated to be teaching our children? Your comments make no sense.

      June 16, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • what a dweeb

      Studmuffin: Obvious that nothing you were taught sunk in. Your thoughts show that you are a shallow minded, half witted nit wit who thrives at underachieving.

      June 16, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • Kate

      Home schooling can also produce very narrow-minded people unless the homeschool educator makes it a point to travel and introduce different cultures into their child/student's cirriculum and be open about the fact that different cultures solve problems differently and there is more than one way to approach life and life's problems. Other than that, certainly parents are qualified to teach their children to read and do basic math, assuming the parents have mastered those subjects.

      June 16, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • Alyce

      While I, as an educator, have great respect for what many homeschool parents are able to achieve, you need to acknowledge the difference between working with children that you have raised to respect the gaining of knowledge through education and what many teachers face in a classroom. When there are upwards of 30 students, some who have no desire to be there and engage in behaviors that reflect this, some who do not speak English well enough to grasp abstract, educational concept, some who have special education issues that impede their education, and some with absolutely NO parental support just knowing how to teach "reading, writing, and math" is not enough. That additional education that you ridicule may give the teachers the tools that allow them to reach EVERY student, not just those that are easy to teach.

      June 16, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • NBCT

      I teach in a public school. Every year we have new students who come in from home school or private school backgrounds who can no longer afford that type of learning environment. Every one of them is “TOP” of the class, “gifted” even. Then reality sets in and they can barely keep up with the rigor or the amount of work we require of them. Bottom line, and we teachers have said it for years, it’s a SOCIAL PROBLEM not an EDUCATION PROBLEM. The only people who are truly concerned about a child’s education are the people who value learning and understand what that education offers our society.

      June 16, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
  33. Captain Real

    The problem is the American culture. Our society does not value education. We place a much higher value on reality tv, NASCAR, facebook, video games, glorification of the military etc. Parents expect teachers to do what they (parents) should be doing from the time their children are born. An impossible task. Back when the U.S. still had manufacturing, students who did not do well in school had something to fall back on. That is gone because of choices we have made, the culture we foster, such as insisting on cheap goods from Walmart.

    June 16, 2012 at 2:11 am |
  34. amarjeet

    When students are deported, teachers have too be laid off as per GOP policy & drive.

    June 16, 2012 at 12:03 am |
  35. AnonObserver

    California has a plethora of boards and commissions that could be eradicated and never are.

    June 16, 2012 at 12:02 am |
  36. roy

    We have become a country who would rather blow lots of money on wars and Pentagon waste rather then spend money to educate our children properly among 1000's of other domestic priorities.

    June 15, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • John

      Education starts at the home front, it does not start and end during school hours. This doesn't cost money, but patience and time by the parents. Spending more money doesn't buy education. It, just like everything else, has to be earned by the child, and reinforced first and foremost at the home front. Watching the recent geography bee and spelling bee on TV recently (History channel), I couldn't help but notice that most of the kids backrounds were first generation immigrant children of indian/asian decent.... both cultures that value education. As multigenerational americans, we could take a cue from this and start pushing our kids at home. I don't believe that those kids individually had better teachers, to get to that level.It's a shame so many of us blame the system. The system isn't the problem, Our culture and methods of rearing and educating children is. And it starts on the home front.

      June 16, 2012 at 5:33 am |
  37. Ia Mom of 4

    I bet next year no one in that district will want their name in the nomination category. It's sad to see school districts having to lay off teachers. Isn't there some other way to achieve their financial goal...look to see if you've got too much weight at the top (management) and start cutting back there. Who will teach our kids once you've laid off all the teachers?

    June 15, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
  38. dwallace1

    I have found no tougher job than teaching, and I have been a welder in Memphis in August. I have also found that most people I meet value teachers greatly and respect the work I do, the internet seems to be a different world. My question is, "What performance would you base these things on?" Much of the work of the best teachers shows up later in productive members of society. It surely can not be the test scores because those have done everything to ruin schools.
    As for seniority being a reason for layoffs, everyone knows experience is vital in doing a good job. Why get rid of your most experienced workers?
    The other comments always mention lazy parents. I work at an inner-city school where man of the students do not have solid families; but even there, the parent(s) that is taking care of the child is anything but lazy. In the vast majority of cases, parents spend most of their time at work trying to take care of their family. How many of you "perfect" parents work 50,60, 70 hours a week? How much time do you really get to spend with your children and how much time are you dependent on schools and other activities to watch them? You are not being a bad or neglectful parent, rather the financial demands of modern life are working to compartmentalize and monetize every part of the family structure.
    All I really know is that change is on the horizon one way or another.

    June 15, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • Lugasamom

      Thank you. What other professions are judged and graded like teachers? Teaching is the profession that (helps) create (almost) all other professions. So many forget the impact of a good teacher or the inspiration from a great one?

      June 15, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
  39. Angelad

    You have to read the complete article to understand it. The real truths is revealed on the second page. The unions have no scruples what so ever and the politicians are fully owned by them....BTW great initiative and clever timing.

    http://articles.boston.com/2012-06-08/metro/32104943_1_ballot-question-teachers-union-ballot-initiative

    June 15, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Angelad

      .... "truth" and sorry I could not activate the link.

      June 15, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Dustin Goldsen

      Unions have been around for over 100 years through good times and bad. That proves they are not the problem.

      June 16, 2012 at 12:25 am |
      • JEM

        This story helps explain why the US has a 24.5% dropout rate in 2012; an improvement from 28% in 2001.

        June 16, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
  40. booboobear

    Less teachers = less graduates. There goes our beloved country...

    June 15, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  41. erin

    I lost my teaching position this week. I know I'm an excellent teacher. Would have had "professional status" in the fall (harder to let me go after that). Glowing reviews – but with a master's degree and 13 years of experience, I was at the top of the salary schedule. They wanted to hire some new kid out of college that they can pay 30K less a year. Then after a couple of years they'll spit them out. This is how public schools are now. In a couple of years all the older teachers will have retired, and your kid will never have a teacher with more than 2 years of experience.

    June 15, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Scott

      This is basic economics. Until and unless there are incentives tied to the performance of the students, there is no reason for administrators to try to identify and retain quality teachers. The unions (teachers, administrators, and support staff) are all opposing any type of incentive program because it requires actual work on their part. If there is no economic incentive to get good teachers, districts will find any teacher that meets whatever standards exist, which increases the supply of available teachers and drives down the price they will pay.

      June 15, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
      • Matt

        For all of the people in favor of performance based pay for teachers one question, Is it more important for a teacher to get a class of B average students to an A average or to get a class of D students to a B average .? Which is a success and which is a failure .

        June 15, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
      • Scott

        They are both successes. Unfortunately, there is work in simply evaluating either scenario objectively and the courts have hamstrung some districts in their efforts to maximize the potential of all students. The system is undoubtedly broken.

        June 15, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
      • AGCS

        Scott – So what standard would you use for the performance based incentive, test scores, high school graduation rates, percentage improvement in test scores, what would it be? I teach remedial students. These kids arrive in 8th grade unable to count by 2 or multiply 6×8 or even use a calculator to help them. Truancy is high, I've had students come to school for 3 days in the entire year. If I am judged by their performance, I would likely be reprimanded if not fired. These are very difficult students to reach and I work hard all year to reach them. I also teach high performing students. These kids barely need a teacher, they just soak it up like sponges. It's easy to pull the great performance out of the high performing kids, not so the low performing kids. I ask to teachthe remedial students every year, but if I am to be judged on their performance, and my livelihood will depend on it, I would seriously reconsider doing so.

        June 15, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
      • Kara

        Hi Scott,

        There is a high incenvive for principals to hire excellent teachers. In order for principals and vice-principals to get their end of the year (decently substantial) bonuses, the students have to meet AYP in all of the sub-populations – English as a Second Language, Special Education, etc.... Plus, if an administrator's school does not meet AYP, they will likely lose their job if the trend continues a 2nd year. So trust me, there's a lot of economic incentive for them to hire really good teachers.

        June 15, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
    • Passer by

      I'm sorry about your job. I really am. I think teachers are very important. The thing I would steer clear of though is being upset that they hire someone younger every two years. While this can be frustrating, atleast maybe the students have a chance of being taught by someone who is connected to them, who still has a huge passion for it, and a drive to want to make things better. Thats not to say you don't, but I don't it's all bad to be hiring younger, more in touch teachers.

      June 15, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • Ia Mom of 4

      Sorry for your loss Erin. That's definitely not a good system they've got going; however, seems like many employers are socking it to the older employees for the sake of hiring cheaper greenhorns (teachers). All that experience teachers like you have with the children and teaching them go right out the window for the greenhorn to come in and have to flounder away while the children suffer. Wish you the best of luck.

      June 15, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • JEM

      The younger the teachers get, the more we will see teachers and students in inappropriate relationships.

      June 16, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • pazzophoto

      That's happening in our district also.

      June 16, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  42. rfraenkel

    People think the demand for K-12 is slowing exponentially. there was the 88 million millennium\'s thast are almost done with K-12. The future demand is less then 20 million. It is that simple. Please think, think for once in your lifes.

    June 15, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Athos

      Perhaps you could hire one of the surplus as an english tutor.

      June 16, 2012 at 11:05 am |
  43. rfraenkel

    People think the demand for K-12 is slowing exponentially. there was the 88 million millennium's thast are almost done with K-12. The future demand is less then 20 million. It is that simple. Please think, think for once in your lifes.

    June 15, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  44. JohnK

    The results of the Republican plan to improve education. Let Wall Street gut the middle class with their greed and then blame teachers, firemen, and cops for all our economic problems. Subvert the political process by buying off their legislators and then blame the unions.

    June 15, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Neil O'Neill

      Congratulations, John! Nobody said it better...wake up folks...when the oil companies are earning billions in new profits, while investment in our schools per child, mind you....not 'dropping enrollment' but kids actually going through the public schools is being drastically cut, you have to ask the question...who's at the wheel and what are their real priorities...?

      June 15, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • LeiLani

      Beautiful analysis. Thank you for telling the truth.

      June 16, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  45. RetiredTeacher

    I taught from '77 – '08. I saw this mess coming, saw NCLB destroying ed. Glad to get out with good pension. TEachers today have little hope of career and pension. The real shame is what this is doing to our children. In America, kids should be first ... ahead of the rich, ahead of military, etc ... they deserve our best, but they get crumbs of left overs, So sad.

    June 15, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • Phillip

      RetiredTeacher, At least you got your money. Maybe it is should have said NTLB. No Teacher Left Behind.

      June 16, 2012 at 7:42 am |
  46. Michelle

    Laws vary from state-to-state but where I live, tenure only provides due process to a teacher if his/her job is in jeopardy, regardless of performance. It does not provide a guaranty for a teaching job. Teachers need union support – anyone, regardless of what grade or subject they teach, can be fired due to an outspoken parent who does not like a grade his/her child received, a personality conflict with an administrator (by the way, why do people not assume that administrators are always playing fairly), or for simply being "outspoken".

    June 15, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • onceacpa

      Your points about how easy it can be to lose a teacher's job are correct.

      However, those same points apply to anyone in private industry as well. They can get laid off if they make a customer unhappy, if they have a personality conflict with their boss or if they are too outspoken. However, they are not protected by tenure and the majority are not covered by unions.

      I think what many seem to be saying here is that they have to deal with the same sort of issues as teachers but they have no protection at all. I am not saying teacher's shouldn't have protection but it does generate resentment in today's economy.

      That being said, teachers do need to be well educated and need experience to teach well. To lay off the most experienced (prior to "burn-out") is costly and does not consider the long term cost to the community as a whole. In general there is a huge difference in the teaching ability of someone with 2 years versus someone with over 10 or more. I would take the more experienced any day to teach me or my children.

      June 16, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  47. teacher

    Being "teacher of the year" does not always equal being a good teacher. As most teachers know, being teacher of the year means you have a good relationship with your administrator. Some of the worst teachers on my campus have received the "teacher of the year" award.

    June 15, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  48. jleoxii13

    The real fix is to budget appropriately, tax appropriately, and spend appropriately. And yes, we need to fix all sides of the equation. Planning, revenue generation, and costing...all have to be inline. It's not even a debatable topic. It's common sense. Which is sorely lacking in our current political discourse.

    June 15, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  49. AGCS

    I too am a teacher. I became a teacher after several other careers including a career in the Navy Reserves and 10 years spent in corporate America. So I have come to teaching much later in life than many of my colleagues. While I love teaching and cannot imagine doing anything else, I find it is also the most difficult profession I have ever worked. It's true I only teach 175- 6 hour days, but that is not all I am required to do. I have papers to grade, 2 hours a day. I have lessons to plan and prepare, 2 hours a day. I have tutorial session to hold twice a week. I am a volunteer intramural coach, 6 hours a week because our underfunded district can not afford a paid sports program. I have parent teacher conferences to attend, and staff meetings to attend, and leadership planning sessions to attend. I buy my own supplies and I repair my own classroom because if I don't, it could take months before our underfunded district can get to it. I have to be "on" for every moment I am in the classroom. I have to do my best every moment. I don't get to just take a break or a day off because I want/need one. I can't even go to the bathroom until the students are out of class. And for this, I don't get paid anymore than I did when I left corporate America 10 years ago. It never ends. By June, I am pretty much burned out. But what do I hear from the public at large? what do I read in the press? I am told that I am doing a lousy job! I don't know how I could do more.

    June 15, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • 12yearteacher

      @AGCS: I am 100% with you. I too work 190 school days per year, for 6.5 hours. How late do we stay after school? How many weekends with our own children have we sacrificed so we can create fun and engaging lessons? Being "on" from 7:45-2:13 every day is tiring! But – I LOVE MY JOB!! I have yet to stare at the clock in my classroom since I became a teacher! When I worked in business, that clock was my enemy! I wouldn't change professions for anything. But – I feel the need to defend myself ALL THE TIME!

      June 15, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
      • AGCS

        I am totally there with you. My days fly by and I love my students. I choose to teach remedial students and love seeing the light turn on. These students come bach their senior year and they are actually graduating and they did pass the exit exam and I feel great that I helped make that difference in their lives. In the Navy, that clock at 3:30 in the morning as you were waiting for the 12-hour watch to end, definitely not my friend!

        June 15, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • sarahsmart

      Thank you for all you do, the republican party's prioritys are screwed right now, pay no mind to them, I appreciate you and the hard work most teachers do, please vote Obama 2012 children are very literally our future.

      June 15, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
      • BetterDeadThanFed

        Actually, we Republicans, like many Democrats, appreciate good/great teachers, too. The problem comes when the Union (rules) let go (fire) very good teachers and keep the crappy ones based on seniority, not quality.

        June 15, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
      • Rose T.

        Please learn English, Sarah. You're not that smart yet. Corrections: Republican Party's (singular possessive) priorities (plural) are two critical errors you've made. Why can't people learn these basics? I teach community college English. Fall Semester 2012 (unless I win the lottery) will be my 25th year. I taught six years of public school right out of college, left that to work as a writer and have been in the community college system for the bulk of my career.

        June 15, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
    • BetterDeadThanFed

      My guess is that you aren't necessarily singled out by the public at-large as being a bad teacher but, instead, hear the grumbling (dissatifaction) about the quality of teachers as a whole, which seems to have declined. I, as a parent, am very thankful that my kids have learned and continue to learn from great teachers. But, without a doubt, there are awful "teachers" in our school system. And one of the many problems of the teachers' union(s) is that teachers are let go – or rewarded – based on seniority and not quality of work. This means that good teachers, perhaps like yourself, are let go and the overpaid, underperforming "teachers" are left to teach (unjustifiably).

      Perhaps you should look into teaching at a private school.

      June 15, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
      • aflarend

        So by what objective measure do you define a teacher? I am asking because right now a lot of states are struggling with that. How do you judge teachers from a low income schools using the same measures as one from a high income school. Poverty is the number one predictor of school performance. How do you decide if they are using appropriate techniques in effective ways across subject areas, especially since these measure will be used by principles who obviously are not experts in all content and all content pedagogy. The principal may think they know, but they cannot based on one observation a year which encompasses at least three meting in the principal's schools : a pre conference so the principal has a heads up on what to expect to see in the classroom, the time in the classroom, and the post conference to discuss the observation. All together this can take 3 or more hours, plus filling out the requisite paperwork. But if you require more observation time which would be a plus, you have now taken up possibly half of the principal's time and other things will suffer. THere are great evaluation programs like the National Board Certification, but that costs $3,000. Are we willing to raise taxes for that? Finally, the teachers have already been evaluated in order to get licensed. And still around 50% drop out during the first few years so the filed does self-monitor.

        June 16, 2012 at 8:23 am |
    • LeiLani

      It's your former buddies Republican corporate America who think you and other teachers are lazy, good-for-nothing bums. You could do a service to all teachers by going back to your corporation and speaking to the leadership about the reality of teaching as opposed to their warped view. Perhaps, since you had been "one of them", they might actually lend you some credence.

      June 16, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  50. nopenotbuyingit

    willing to bet this is a media ploy on behalf of the "poor mistreated union teachers".. what better way to spark outrage than to fire /lay off the "teacher of the year"..

    Sorry .. no sympathy... manage your $$ better and you can keep the good ones..

    June 15, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • alpg49

      HuH? Define "the good ones". Let me guess: You also buy Romney's BS about larger class size being OK.

      June 15, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
      • AGCS

        no I do not, My question is what criteria would you use to decide which teacher is good and which teacher is bad so that you could keep the good ones?

        June 15, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • AGCS

      Define "good". By what criteria would you use to rate the "good ones"?

      June 15, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
      • 12yearteacher

        Without a union, the "Good" teachers would be the cheap teachers if the districts had their way.

        June 15, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • JonPeter

      The outrage should be seniority over quality and a system that supports that notion, including the unions.

      June 15, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
      • 12yearteacher

        There is no easy fix for this issue. If we go on performance based or "merit pay", it's based on test scores. The majority of my students have a learning disability of some form and therefore, their test scores will be lower simply because of their differences. I've won multiple awards from the community and my students, but if we go to performance based evaluations, I would be fired in a heart beat! Seniority, as unfair as it may seem, is the only way to make things fair when budgets get tight!

        June 15, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
      • Teach108

        Several studies conclude that the longer a teacher is on the job, the more effective he or she becomes. You could compare it by asking yourself whether you want a brand new heart surgeon just out of college performing a transplant on you or would you prefer someone with experience? How about a lawyer? Would you choose a newly minted lawyer to defend you in a serious case or would you choose someone with courtroom experience? Most people understand that those with more experience are generally better at their jobs.

        June 15, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • David

      What a ridiculous and poorly thought out comment. But you know, people with poor educations or who are not too bright seem to be unable to value an education the way people who have had one value it. This seems to drive the Republican attack on education.

      No, this isn't about "manage your money", this is about the moronic Republican assault on school funding so they can give more back to the rich. Schools used to be able to afford enough teachers UNTIL BUDGETS WERE CUT.

      The schools themselves aren't mismanaging it.

      I'm surprised there are still people like you out there who get this so wrong. Voting GOP, right?

      June 15, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  51. jimmyd

    OK students, now thatyou have grasped the conceptof "irony", we willnowmoveon to "idiocy". Let's not see the same hands.

    June 15, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • smitvict

      "and that the layoffs were based on seniority" Also time to grasp the concept of U N I O N.

      June 15, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
  52. CosmicC

    Is tenure bad? I'm not sure there's a clear answer to that. I am sure that it was created to address a wrong that would return the minute it was removed. Tenure prevents experienced teachers from being fired for political or economic reasons. If tenured teachers are a problem in your district, look to your administration. Good administrators won't grant tenure to questionable teachers. Great administrators will be able to manage out those who change for the worse after gaining tenure (although that can be a long, painful process).

    June 15, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • Unions

      It is the union way. The motto for a union should be " we will be no stronger than our weakest". Sad.

      June 15, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
      • 12yearteacher

        No – it's not that union's protect the weak. Honestly – I'm not just saying that. I was raised in a non-union family. I'm the only union member of my family. My union simply makes sure that I'm treated fairly. We don't have this almighty power that the general public seems to think. I've seen teachers fired every year and the union simply provides the lawyer to help them negotiate a fair package – that's it. Usually, those teachers are let go because of age and an inability to continue their profession. We agreed to a pay freeze for next year. We are not greedy – we simply want fairness. We've been vilified in the public eye by everyone that simply doesn't understand. I just don't understand this incredible hatred for my profession. I LOVE my job – but I do deserve fair pay and benefits. Period.

        June 15, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • smitvict

      What grade school teacher needs protection from being fired by tenure? Why not extend tenure to the busboy at the local Outback? Tenure is for teachers who do research were they could take a position that is unpopular. Grade school teachers need NO such protection.

      June 15, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
      • 12yearteacher

        All teachers, grade school-University level need that protection because people look at our salaries after years of service and think they could just let us go and hire the new grads out of school a lot cheaper! Our profession is different that that of a busboy. I'm offended that you would compare us. We go to a University for 5 years (no longer a 4 year degree when you include our student teaching), plus we are all expected to have a graduate degree within a certain time frame. Our graduate degree's give us more knowledge to bring to the classroom, but it also makes us more expensive to the districts. The districts love to tout us for our higher degrees (everyone I work with has a M.Ed. and over 1/2 are working on their doctoral degrees), but when the budget's are tight, it's the higher level and more qualified teachers that would be the first cut. They DON'T care about the kids – only the money!! The cheaper the teacher the better for their budgets. The union protects us from that mentality!

        June 15, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
      • aflarend

        Why not have tenure in every area? The work of busboys can be easily measured by how clean are the tables. The work of an educator cannot. Educators work with a vulnerable population (kids) who misinterpret things and then bring that misinterpretation home. The older kids try to purposefully get teachers they don"t like fired. Parent misinterpret teacher actions as singling out their kid. Kids say they don't learn anything in class that use methods other than lecturing, not recognizing how much they have learned. Tenure merely assures that the teachers get fair hearings and are judged on the evidence of the incident.

        June 16, 2012 at 8:29 am |
  53. USAISSUES

    Oh how I fear for the future of America. Sometimes when you live in a country it is not easy to see the most glaring faults in the system. The USA should be cutting military and increasing education so that you would be the most educated country in the world. You are sadly being left behind and higher education is for only the wealthy and not the most intelligent. What you spend in wars in one day were spent on education just think of what a country you could be. Hope you get your act together.

    June 15, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • JBPCALI

      Cutting Military? Obviously you are not in the military, becuase the military has been gettting cut for almost 10 years now. People want to cut the military until something happens in country and then everyone is all behind us. We dont make much money and we work long hours, but I love defending our country. Eventhough we get a bad rap for a few idiots who do something stupid over here in Afghanistan, we love our country and will give our life for it. So before you start wanting to get rid of people who will die for your way of life, you need to rethink getting rid of so many of us patriotic peple. I am in Afghanistan and have been for sometime now, and I work everyday for 12+hrs. I wont have a day off till the end of the year, so all we want sometimes is some appreciation since we dont feel the love anymore from the people whose freedoms we put our life on the line for.

      June 16, 2012 at 7:27 am |
  54. 12yearteacher

    I'm a teacher. I love my job. I've been in the classroom for 12 years. I have seen "Senior" teachers fired several times and replaced by younger and therefore cheaper teachers – tenure is NOT a guarantee. I don't work 9 months out of the year, I work 10. We don't get 3 months off, we get 2. And for those of you who think that makes our lives easy, think again. We need those months to recharge ourselves so we can be at the top of our game with your children come September. Most of us take that time to improve our lessons, take classes and yes – reflect on our year. Every year, I change my lessons as do a majority of my co-workers. Also, FYI our pensions are mandated by the state. I don't have a say like you do in a 401K. I get 7.5% taken out of each paycheck and it goes into a state retirement fund in PA. We don't get to say how it's invested and the state does what it wants with it, including using for other purposes. Then when a teacher retires after 30 years, our state government talks about how greedy we are when we go to collect our pensions. If I could invest 7.5% of my paycheck in an IRA, I could retire after 20-25 years!! Stop hating on us. Look to the state governments and how they manage our pensions. Look to the administrators and the boards making triple digits. I LOVE my job. I wouldn't leave it for all the money in the world. I love my students. What I can't stand any longer is the hatred and ignorance the general public seems to have for my profession. Come spend a week with me in my classroom and you will walk away with a different opinion – I promise!

    June 15, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • Virginia Independent Voter

      Thank you 12 year teacher for your dedication to your trade. I am the product of a public school education and it made a tremendous difference in my life. Because of my public education, which so many degrade these days, I was able to go to college, law school, and make a six figure salary. The main problem today is not the teachers. It's the lazy, ignorant parents who do not participate in their children's education. To be sure, there are some bad teachers and the administrators, with the help of the unions, should be able to week out the bad apples. But, I am so tired of people, mainly uneducated Fox viewers, who degrade good and dedicated teachers or anyone who may work for a union. Meanwhile the 1%ers are getting rich off their ignorance. I fear for the future of this country and the unrestrained greed I see today.

      June 15, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • DC

      Thank you for your dedicated commitment to our youth!

      June 15, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • Realist

      If you think 7.5% for 20 years will allow you to retire, you need to review your math.

      I agree that teachers are taking a beating, but many of them seem to ask for it.

      June 15, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
      • 12yearteacher

        I've done my math, thank you very much. If I would be allowed to invest that 7.5% myself in whatever I choose, along with the additional 4% I currently put aside and INVEST, yes – I could retire a lot sooner. When I worked in business, the average 401K was 5-8%, matched up to 4% by my company. Comes out pretty darn close.

        June 15, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
      • Matt

        Realist just got schooled

        June 15, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Charity

      @12YearTeacher- I work for an organization that works hard to support great teachers such as yourself. The pension and retirement issues you mention are real and of great concern to us as well. I'd love to hear more about your story and ideas – you can get in touch with me through email, admin@studentsfirst.org

      June 15, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • Mountainmama

      Just to clarify (possibly?). I'm guessing you don't "get two months" off, but you get paid for 10 months of work. My contract is for nine months, and I don't get paid for the other three, although I do have my pay annualized so my paycheck is spread out. And during the three months I'm not paid, I do course prep, assessment, professional development, etc. as I'm sure you do. Thank you!

      June 15, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
      • 12yearteacher

        @Mountainmama: Yes, you are correct in that I get paid for 10 months of work, but have it spread out over 12 months of paychecks. And yes, during my "summer vacation" I continue to work, developing new lessons and taking classes at the university. Might I get to sleep in a few days and spend some time with my children? Yes. Why is that so bad?

        June 15, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  55. Rynomite

    Basing layoffs on seniority is a horribly way to do it.

    Layoff's should be performance based. Seniority should only be a factor if two people are equal in performance.

    The net consequences of this is that poor teachers stay around and futher diminish the U.S. educational system.

    June 15, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • John

      The problem with "perfomance based" is that is usually means "whoever the bosses like the most" or "who kissed the most ass". Seniority should absolutely be the prime factor so as to take politics out of the equation.

      June 15, 2012 at 11:52 am |
      • Rynomite

        John, you have a valid point that a subjective performance based rating could end up with unfavorable results due to politics. The same can occur in my profession where our yearly rasies our based on performance. I'm a high performer, but not a brown nose, and I have seen cases of favoritism elevate some mediocre performers faster than myself. However, I will say it would be a brave boss who elevates a POOR performer as the bosses name ends up associated with the person who has been elevated. Additionaly, while I recognize that this system is not perfect, I would much rather have an opportunity to make more money as a high performer (even if sometimes I am passed over politically) than just split the pie evenly among everyone. From a teaching perspective, whats wrong with trying to get some sort of objective performace criteria? Say the kids in the class take some sort of standardized test at the beginning and the end of the year. Teachers could be ranked based on the children in their classes improvment.

        June 15, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
      • CosmicC

        NJ is implementing a new, standardized teacher evaluation program. On paper it looks good. There is still room for bias and politics because humans are involved. The real issue I'm seeing is that this will triple the amount of time administrators must dedicate to evaluating staff. Since we are under pressure to reduce administrators, we can't hire any more. They already work more than an 8 hour day, so what it comes down to is which task they should drop. With so many mandates, I'm not sure how we'll handle this requirement without getting punished for not doing something else.

        June 15, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
      • ATPMSD

        Only if there is a system to remove poorly performing teachers first e.g. no tenure!

        June 15, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
      • Allyson

        I wonder when having the most seniority meant becoming the first person to lose their job? Doesn't having seniority also mean you have loyalty? I always thought the last person hired was the first person fired.

        June 15, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • Matt

      If it was based on performance who would teach the retards

      June 15, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
      • Matt

        For my next heart surgery I was going to go with a chiropodist because I read on the internet that they lose less patients during surgery than Heart surgeons . I figured if I went with the best foot doctor he would be better than any heart surgeon . But now I am really confused, a teacher friend told me more people die because open heart surgery is more risky than working on a bunion or an ingrown toenail . She equated it to teaching kids with different IQ's and abilities although you do your best the outcomes can always be different. I guess this performance ranking is trickeir than it looks

        June 15, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  56. Tim

    I see several major flaws in most of the comments here. I must first say that I do not teach, but my wife does. I am an athletic trainer by trade, and as a medical profressional I make just as meager a salary as she does. The teacher unions in Missouri do not have the kind of "pull" that other more blue collar occupational unions have. They are shaped more into a professional affiliation that gives teachers some backing in the event of litigation (which opens another soapbox). Teacher pay is nothing near what it should be, and one of the most inflammatory things in my recent memory tied back to the increases in minimum wage. While all blue collar workers got a nice 40% (roughly calculated) raise in pay. The teachers in Missouri were in the middle of a nice long pay freeze. The comments that I have seen on here today make me sick. It is a problem beyond political affiliation. Is there another more important profession in this country? Who will teach our future generations if teachers finally realize that they are getting the major shaft? Honestly, if it gets worse I really hope that they all walk and leave you to educate your own children. My kids will be just fine because I luckily married a teacher.

    June 15, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • Roger

      I can quickly list for you the most important profession – farmers. Farmers stop doing their jobs, society collapses in a few months at most.

      June 15, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
      • Sean

        If you want to go by that logic about farmers, I'd say that people who main the electrical grid and power plants are more important than farmers. First off, most "farmers" in the united states are just a few very large corporations that do a massive % of all agriculture. Second, people could get by through importation (without american farming, all of the massive disincentives for the third world to produce crops would vanish and they would step up), local growing, and diet adaptation. Do you know what people couldn't import, or would have a much much harder time doing locally, power generation/infrastructure.

        haha... half troll comment tbh

        June 15, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
  57. trublue

    I bet you a pay check she votes retard doing the election. Most of the teachers here in Texas vote retard and their getting laidoff left and right. the fireman, policeman , city workers they all vote retard these or the same folks want less government in their homes. but they just don't get it ( their job is government wake the F up ).

    June 15, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • Walmart Conservative

      I just know that if we get rid of all unions and labor laws and cut taxes even more for job creators that they will open up new factories right here in the great USA and they will pay people fairly and will make sure CEO's don't get paid millions and millions unless all employees are paid fairly and the factory is making good profits. I just know that. I also know that Obama is a muslim sharia law sneaking nigerian who wants us to be like China, before him I had so many freedoms but now I feel like I cannot even go out of the house without breaking one of his new communist laws even though I cannot think of one single new communist law I am scared, very unamerican scared like a little bunny rabbit.

      June 15, 2012 at 11:52 am |
      • PaulMoATX

        One of the dumbest and most ignorant comments I've ever read, but I guess your username says it all.

        June 15, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
      • smitvict

        "I just know that if we get rid of all unions and labor laws and cut taxes even more". Any suggestion that we bring unions under control and suddenly ALL unions, ALL labor laws, will go out the door. Liberals really have very simple, binary minds.

        June 15, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • Voice from Outside

      You all need to watch "Waiting for Superman".
      Yes, many teachers are good, hard-working, motivated, etc.
      Some are horrible.
      Note: This is the same in most professions. I've run into good/middle/bad employees in auto service, haircuts, information technology, etc.
      The difference is the union contracts in many areas make it all but impossible to get rid of the horrible ones. When a higher percentage of doctors lose their medical license than teachers getting fired, something is wrong with the system.
      The union contracts also make it difficult or impossible to do the following:
      – change the structure of the school day
      – offer extra pay to really high performing teachers
      – etc.
      The United States spends almost double per capita on education today than 40 years ago (inflation adjusted). But the results in public education have not doubled. Do the math.

      June 15, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
      • Matt

        Can you substantiate your comment about more Doctors losing their licences please .

        June 15, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
      • CB

        The statistics stated in that movie are bogus.

        June 17, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  58. Walmart Conservative

    I fear Obama and all the freedom he has taken away even though I cannot name one. I fear sharia law because Americans are so weak we'll just let sharia law happen. I fear all the things republicans playing on my fear tell me. I know unions and middle class wanting to much from this great country is the problem, not the big corporations and greedy CEO's that rape and pillage them on the backs of middle class because I know that will never happen and all CEO's identify with and care about me.

    June 15, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • Mycenia

      Well played. More so the first time.

      June 15, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  59. Xenia

    Jay,
    Who taught you to be so smart?

    June 15, 2012 at 11:35 am |
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