Saving Pennsylvania’s Best Teachers

This week, Commonwealth Foundation placed billboards in Philadelphia subway stations to highlight the problem of seniority rules in our public schools.

Philadelphia Teacher Seniority Billboard

Currently, Section 1125 of the Pennsylvania School Code of 1949 lays out rules that determine how we hire, place and lay off teachers in public schools. In a nutshell, it means teachers who have been around the longest—regardless of how well they teach—are entitled to keep their jobs, even if there’s a younger, better teacher around.

When a school district is in financial trouble, the real damage from seniority rules begins to show. Philadelphia school district’s money woes have been in the news, but not all the district’s problems come down to lack of funding.

If the school district were able to re-hire and place teachers according to how well they teach, students would win. It’s a smart use of limited resources, and a good way to reward good teachers.

HB 1722, sponsored by Rep. Tim Krieger (R-Delmont), would reform seniority so we can keep our best teachers not only in Philadelphia, but all over the state. The bill bases teacher retention on their classroom performance, helping both teachers and students. It’s high time we ditched this outdated policy.