Punishing Experience

The Dispatch had a wrong headed editorial over the weekend, promoting SB5 provisions. Specifically it chose to cherry pick the sad fact that good teachers are losing their jobs because of the reckless budget. But make no mistake, it's budget cuts, not lay-off policies that are causing job lossses, as the Dispatch itself reported back in January.

This editorial promoted a lot of reaction from teachers, this example from a Dublin teacher we thought should be highlighted

In response to the June 5 Dispatch editorial, “Punishing Talent”, it’s obvious that the author chose to ignore why seniority is used to determine staff reductions. Teachers that are most desired in today’s job market are the lowest on the pay scale. Seniority does not protect experienced teachers; it assigns those who can most easily be rehired to be let go first. It has nothing to do with talent. Every teacher in the building was chosen from hundreds, if not thousands, of applicants. But only those with less than five years experience are even being considered for new job openings by all districts in today’s economy.

Our governor has assured that your own district cannot afford to hire the best, highest qualified, most experienced teacher in the job market today. Don’t take my word for it, ask your school administrator or take a look at who gets the job open within your district.

On the same day as this wrong headed Dispatch editorial was published, the Akron Beacon Journal chose to look at facts instead of rhetoric, and compared public schools in Akron to Charter schools and found

13 years after the first school opened in Ohio, charter schools generally — and Brennan's schools specifically — have failed to match, let alone exceed, the academic performance of traditional schools.

Why would these charters suffer such terrible results, year after year? The answer is incredibly simple, and obvious to anyone who takes the time to examine the data

Brennan's high schools also were much lower than Akron Public Schools in three other categories: teacher experience, qualifications and pay.

Teachers at the city's public high schools averaged at least 15 years of experience, according to the report card data. Ellet High School posted the highest average of 19 years' experience.

One Akron Life Skills school reported an average of 13 years' experience, but the other two had a much greener staff, averaging only two and six years experience.

In addition to more years on the job, teachers at traditional schools also are more likely to have a master's degree. Two-thirds of Akron Public Schools teachers, across all grade levels, have more than a four-year degree, according to the state data.

That compares to a high of 31 percent at one of Brennan's Life Skills schools, 9 percent at another and none at the third.

Better qualified, more experienced teachers produce better results. Yes, when lay-offs do happen some great teachers lose their jobs because they lack seniority. But in the aggregate it's exposure young teachers gain from experienced mentors that makes them great. The data clearly demonstrates that experience and qualifications matter most. If we were to start firing experienced teachers, using some half-baked student testing regime, to save money - from whom would junior teachers learn from in order to become great?

The Dispatch article fails to answer this question, instead, like a Brennan charter school it simply wants to race to the bottom and ignore the facts, by punishing experience.