Yesterday, James wrote about the passage of HB 805—legislation that would protect excellent teachers by using performance, not seniority, as the primary factor in furlough decisions. You can view the roll call vote here.
Unfortunately for students and teachers, Gov. Wolf has already threatened to veto this bill. But the rationale makes little sense.
“The governor believes this is a local matter to be decided by districts,” said Wolf spokesman Jeff Sheridan. “He doesn't believe this is a matter for the state to decide.”
What exaclty does Sheridan think should be decided by districts?
- Should school districts decide if tenure for teachers should set in after four years instead of three? Current law prohibits that. HB 805 allows superintendents, if they choose, to set tenure.
- Should school districts have flexibility to furlough employees? Current law severely limits when schools can reduce employment. In essence, they have to restructure academic programs and shut down entire departments. HB 805 allows schools to provide furloughs for “economic reasons”, which gives them far greater flexibility in meeting student needs.
- Should schools be able to look at teacher performance in furlough decisions? Current law prohibits that, requiring school districts to look solely at seniority. Under HB 805, schools would be able to use the new teacher evaluation system to furlough low-performing educators first.
In all cases, current law denies school districts the ability to make decisions about critical staffing issues. HB 805 empowers local school districts to make decisions with far greater flexibility.
That’s why Gov. Wolf should sign HB 805, empowering excellent teachers and protecting students. Send him a message today: