Union Apologists: Why Keep School Seniority? Older Teachers Have Mortgages!

Kyle Olson
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Posted: Jun 25, 2011 12:01 AM
Union Apologists: Why Keep School Seniority? Older Teachers Have Mortgages!
Some people can find an excuse for anything, including the ridiculous practice of “last in, first out,” which protects veteran teachers during periods of layoff in public schools.

We’ve heard unions complain that seniority must be maintained so that “administrators can’t discriminate against certain individuals (based on their age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, for example) or play favorites…”

Further, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers theorized that efforts to dump the LIFO policy are “an effort to pit union members against each other, to get us sniping and backstabbing to keep our jobs.”

Perhaps the Philadelphia school board is simply interested in retaining the best teachers, regardless of seniority? Nah, that couldn’t be it.

Now consider this doozy from a Michigan newspaper reporter-acting-as-columnist, William F. Ast III:

“What's wrong with observing seniority when forced to lay off some employees?

“Employees with seniority are more likely to be established in the community. They are more likely to be paying mortgages. They are more likely to have children, with all the expenses and responsibilities associated with parenthood. Surely that's worth some consideration, and I'm a little tired of those who say loyal workers deserve no loyalty from the top.”

So teachers with mortgages deserve special job protections. They could be completely worthless at their job – a negative influence, in fact – but they have obligations they must meet. That means taxpayers and parents must tolerate their incompetence to make sure they don’t lose their house, right? Never mind the fact that children aren’t learning.

Unions have also claimed that seniority systems prevent school boards from laying off the highest paid teachers first.

This all, of course, runs contrary to common sense. School leaders want the best teachers, regardless of age, sex or race. Parents and students deserve no less. A seniority-based system is one of the greatest injustices in American public schools. It was adopted from auto companies and has no place in education.

With America’s academic performance in decline, we must make sure we have the best possible educators in every classroom. If that means a lesser teacher with a home mortgage loses their job, so be it.

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and Ast once again prove that the fight in America’s public schools really is about adult issues, not students.