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Press Release

    What’s Best for Oregon Students?

    09/03/2008

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    p>Obviously this should be everyone’s first concern when deciding education policy. It is remarkable how quickly muddy waters can clear when we begin by asking, "What policy is best for the kids?"

    That’s the question Measure 60 forces to the forefront.

    Imagine this scenario: A high school principal calls the English Literature teacher into his office to discuss class assignments. A talented, young math teacher has been laid off for budget reasons, and the resulting reduction in staff has created a dilemma. Three sections of Algebra I and II and two sections of Geometry need to be parsed out to the remaining staff members—none of whom are certified to teach math.

    The literature teacher leaves the meeting feeling that he has no choice but to accept what is obviously a serious mis-assignment. He quickly tracks down the appropriate textbook and starts cramming, hoping he will be able to stay ahead of the students—and the probing attention of their concerned parents—who probably know more about the subject than he does.

    In subsequent discussions with other teachers, he learns that several of them have had their class schedules disassembled, shuffled and then reassembled in order to solve the problem.

    Does this really happen? Are teachers forced to teach subjects in which they have little expertise? Unfortunately, teaching mis-assignments are not uncommon when there are lay-offs due to budget shortfalls and the “seniority rule” is indiscriminately applied.

    Exceptional teachers are sometimes first in line to be let go, while other teachers are retained without regard to how good they are or what classes they will be required to teach, but simply because they have been around longer.

    Current “seniority first” policies can result in the loss of some of our best teachers. Ask yourself, “How is this best for kids?” and vote “Yes” on Measure 60.

    Tim Rohrer
    Former teacher and member of the NEA and OEA from 1977-2006