June 15th, 2012
03:57 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Readers debate unions, seniority after Teacher of Year's ouster

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Thousands of teaching positions have reportedly been lost in the last month, but one of those layoffs has sparked a lively dialogue among CNN.com's readers.

In May, the Sacramento City Unified School District in California handed a pink slip to Michelle Apperson, a sixth-grade teacher at Sutterville Elementary. Apperson was gracious about the job loss, telling CNN affiliate KXTV, "It hurts on a personal level because I really love what I do ... But professionally, politically, I get why it happens."

Many were not so accepting of the decision. Why? Because Apperson was not a newbie, nor had her performance been called into question. In fact, she had taught at Sutterville for nine years and recently was selected Teacher of the Year for the entire district.

After her ouster, one student wrote a letter, according to KXTV, that began: "Dear Ms. Apperson, I will miss you dearly. I will never forget you! You are the best teacher ever. I am very lucky that you are my teacher!"

The district's decision came amid a $43 million budget shortfall, which forced Sacramento schools to slash its workforce. The layoffs were based on seniority, per state law, and a district spokesman said that while the situation was unfortunate, "It's another sign of how education's funding really needs an overhaul."

A woman identifying herself as the ousted teacher commented that she sympathized with district's plight:

Apperson: Wow! I am glad that this article stirred emotion from people. In my hometown, I did the original interview to bring awareness to two main topics – children are affected when we cut education, and in CA we can make a difference as citizens to vote for education. 25 percent of my school's staff got pink slips. They are good people who work hard for kids. I have taught for 13 years, 9 in this district. My district is trying hard to make ends meet, they do not want to hurt kids. The union is trying hard to protect good teachers at school doing what's right. My perspective and that of the reporter was to shed light on the subject and stir awareness. Thank you, for talking about education and kids. I do not know the answer to any of it, but I do know that being named Teacher of the Year in my school district is a great honor and I am humbled.

One reader said the reason for the firings was simple and compared the situation to that faced by many business during the economic crisis:

BD: The fact that we are firing teachers rather than hiring them as a means to deal with the current economic climate is the saddest fact of all. It's no different than a bankrupt business selling off its physical assets.

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Filed under: education • Issues • Policy • Politics • Resources • teacher unions • Teachers
Music appreciation: Songs about school
June 15th, 2012
06:00 AM ET

Music appreciation: Songs about school

By Jordan Bienstock, CNN

(CNN) – With students around the country anticipating – and then celebrating – that final bell before summer, there is one song that is absolutely inescapable this time of year.

“No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks.” (All together now) “School’s out for summer!”

So it seems like the perfect opportunity to delve into some music appreciation, specifically songs about schools:

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Filed under: Extracurricular • Music • Teachers • video