Tuesday, May 17, 2016

PA: Senate, House Leaders Call on Wolf to Protect Excellent Teachers

HARRISBURG – Speaker of the House Mike Turzai (R-28), Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25), House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R-62) and Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-34), along with school board representatives and education advocates, today called on Gov. Tom Wolf to side with Pennsylvania schools and sign House Bill 805.
The Protecting Excellent Teachers Act would end the practice of seniority-based layoffs in Pennsylvania and instead require teacher performance to guide furlough and reinstatement decisions. Seniority would remain a component, not the sole factor, of the furlough process.
“While budget negotiations are often centered on how much we should spend in our classrooms, we must also ensure our taxpayers are getting a quality return on their investment. With House Bill 805, the governor has an opportunity to work with us, instead of against us, in a bipartisan effort to improve the quality and effectiveness of our schools and allow every student access to the best educators,” Turzai said.
Under House Bill 805, teacher performance ratings based on the statewide educator evaluation system would guide furlough and reinstatement decisions. The system assigns observed educators a rating of distinguished, proficient, needs improvement or failing based on a combination of classroom observation, elective measures chosen at the local level and multiple measures of student academic performance.
“This is common sense – we should have a system in place that protects the most highly effective teachers. If the governor is genuinely concerned about providing our children with quality public education, then he should join us in moving to protect excellent teachers. It’s in the best interest of our students,” Corman said.
Pennsylvania is one of only six remaining states that require seniority to be the sole factor in determining layoffs.
“This issue is clearly about advocating for what is best for our children. In the event that layoffs are necessary, children and their parents deserve the peace of mind that educators who are making a positive, lasting difference in students’ lives are going to be able to stay right where they belong — in the classroom,” Scarnati said.
The leaders called on Wolf to join the General Assembly in ensuring accountability measures, like House Bill 805, are part of the overall education discussion.
“If we are going to talk about investing in education, accountability needs to be part of the equation. What’s better than ensuring our investments include the best teachers in our classrooms? This legislation gives our schools the ability to keep the best,” Reed said.