Sharif El-Mekki, principal of Shoemaker Middle and High School in Philadelphia, considers the impact of PA Governor Wolf's veto of House Bill 805, which would allow district leaders to lay off teachers who get "failing" or "needs improvement" grades on evaluations before younger and more effective teachers:
I've been a Philadelphia principal for 13 years. I've been in schools where the best teachers were experienced veterans. I've been in schools where the best teachers - the ones who were really moving the needle on student growth and achievement - were new in their careers. I have also experienced times - during necessary layoffs due to budget problems, enrollment shifts, or student needs - when I've had no choice but to give a pink slip to that great young teacher, the one who connects with kids whom others have given up on (while the ineffective teachers keep collecting paychecks).
Students should have access to the best teachers possible. That's the whole premise of educational justice and equity. "Best" doesn't mean "years served." The district doesn't owe senior teachers anything: We owe our kids the best possible odds of academic achievement...
This is not about Democrats vs. Republicans. It's about money. It's about power. It's about the heavy sway of teacher unions in this shortchanged city. It's about making a choice about what we value more: labor rules or student achievement.
With his veto, Wolf chose adults over kids and union support over equity