Sacramento “Teacher of the Year” Laid Off; Who is to Blame?

Sacramento “Teacher of the Year” Laid Off; Who is to Blame?

I have a great deal of sympathy for Michelle Apperson, the Sacramento “Teacher of the Year” who was laid off. Assuming she deserved the award, she should not have been laid off.

Sixth-grade teacher Michelle Apperson passed down a simple message to her students.

“My favorite teachers growing up were the ones who challenged me to go out of my comfort level a little bit, strive for the stars, and work hard,” the veteran California educator wrote on her school’s bio page.

Despite just being named Sacramento’s “Teacher of the Year,” Apperson was laid off as part of a massive budget cut.

“It hurts on a personal level because I really love what I do,” Apperson, who taught all subjects, told KXTV-News 10. “But professionally and politically or economically, I get why it happens.”

Her pink slip comes just days after President Barack Obama prodded Washington lawmakers to help cash-strapped states with education funding.

The Sacramento City Unified School District has suffered approximately $143 million in budget cuts in recent years. School spokesperson Gabe Ross told News 10 that who gets laid off is mandated by state law and is based on seniority, not performance.

“It’s an awful situation,” Ross said. “It’s another sign of how education’s funding really needs an overhaul.”

According to her bio, Apperson’s goal was to teach her students “how to solve problems with peers, other adults, and the world around them.”

Now they know firsthand how difficult that can sometimes be.

Does Apperson Really “Get Why it Happens”?

I like Apperson’s Bio, her experience, and her message to her 6th grade class.

However my sympathies end there.

She says she “gets why it happens”. Does she? If so why doesn’t she explicitly say so?

Who is to Blame?

Teachers’ unions are 100% to blame for this mess. Unions protect the under-performers at the expense of those like Apperson. Unions even protect repeated sexual predator teachers.

From the New York Times article Give Schools the Power to Punish

In one case, a male teacher in Manhattan was accused of inappropriately touching a female student in 2010, but the arbitrator imposed only a suspension without pay. And now — after more disturbing episodes — we’ve filed charges against this individual for a third time.

As it stands, public school teachers accused of sexual misconduct enjoy protections that no other city employee has. That puts children in danger, and we cannot allow it to continue.

Rest assured there are thousands of cases like that nationwide. Want some articles?

The Huffington Post reports New York Teachers Paid To Do Nothing: 700 Of Them

Hundreds of New York City public school teachers accused of offenses ranging from insubordination to sexual misconduct are being paid their full salaries to sit around all day playing Scrabble, surfing the Internet or just staring at the wall, if that’s what they want to do.

Because their union contract makes it extremely difficult to fire them, the teachers have been banished by the school system to its “rubber rooms” _ off-campus office space where they wait months, even years, for their disciplinary hearings.

The 700 or so teachers can practice yoga, work on their novels, paint portraits of their colleagues _ pretty much anything but school work. They have summer vacation just like their classroom colleagues and enjoy weekends and holidays through the school year.

Because the teachers collect their full salaries of $70,000 or more, the city Department of Education estimates the practice costs the taxpayers $65 million a year. The department blames union rules.

Here is a Google search of Teachers Paid to Sit if you want more examples.

Now factor in incompetent teachers and poor teachers. The union protects them too.

Overhaul Needed

Yes, indeed. An overhaul is truly needed. Teachers should be hired, fired and receive pay raises based on merit, not seniority.

School spokesperson Gabe Ross told News 10 that who gets laid off is mandated by state law and is based on seniority, not performance.

Ross then whines “It’s another sign of how education’s funding really needs an overhaul.”

An overhaul is indeed needed. It’s time to get rid of collective bargaining of public unions, and it’s time for merit pay for teachers.

Enormous Sense of Entitlement

With very few exceptions, public union members have an enormous sense of entitlement.

Public union members need to put themselves in the average taxpayer’s shoes. Public union members also need to realize promised benefits cannot possibly materialize.

Teachers’ Unions Do Not Prioritize the Interests of Students

Here is the deal, straight up. Teachers’ unions do not give a damn about the kids.

Please read that carefully. I said “Teachers’ unions” NOT teachers.

Most teachers do care about the kids. However, those teachers are sucked into believing garbage fed by union organizers. That garbage inevitably leads to cannibalization of the lowest on the seniority totem pole, regardless of skills or talent.

Union mentality is also to blame for inability of school districts to get rid of sexual predators and grossly incompetent teachers.

Time For Reflection

This is a time for serious reflection. We all need to think about what government owes us (or doesn’t), what taxpayers owe public union workers (or don’t), and what promises have been made by politicians at taxpayer expense that cannot possibly be met.

The problem is not a lack of education funding.

The problem is absurd expectations as to what benefits public union workers receive, coupled with inability to get rid of union workers, except on the basis of seniority, even in the face of repeated sexual predator behavior, coupled with inability to retain talented workers, even if they are “teacher of the year.”

About the author: Mike “Mish” Shedlock is a registered investment advisor representative for Sitka Pacific Capital Management. His top-rated global economics blog Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis offers insightful commentary every day of the week. He is also a contributing “professor” on Minyanville, a community site focused on economic and financial education. Every Thursday he does a podcast on HoweStreet and on an ad hoc basis he contributes to many other websites, including UnionWatch.

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