Bill to Keep Best Teachers Heads to Governor

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HARRISBURG – Legislation to keep Pennsylvania’s best teachers in the classroom and boost student achievement by ending the practice of seniority-based layoffs passed the Senate today and is now on its way to the governor, Majority Leader, Rep. Dave Reed (R-Indiana County) said.

Under current law, teacher layoffs are conducted in order of inverse seniority. The last teacher hired is the first person fired, regardless of his or her impact on students.

"Forcing school officials to lay off teachers based solely on date of hire and not performance like any other organization, hurts the students and teachers," Reed said. "Each school district should have the ability to hire and keep the best teachers and not be hampered by outdated laws or rules."

House Bill 805, known as the Protecting Excellent Teachers Act, would strengthen the teaching profession and boost student success by ensuring that school districts use teacher performance to guide furlough and reinstatement decisions. Using sophisticated teacher evaluation models will help schools retain their best talent and move away from inflexible seniority rules.

Regardless of performance, inflexible seniority rules puts young, effective teachers at risk, regardless of job performance.

"Focusing on classroom performance, expertise and ability to connect with students will help protect Pennsylvania’s best teachers," Reed said. "This is about teaching our kids and giving them the best shot possible."

To protect excellent teachers at all levels of seniority, the Protecting Excellent Teachers Act also prohibits a school district from using a teacher’s pay and benefits in determining any layoff decision.

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