Apr 13, 2011

Georgia Ends "Last-In, First-Out" (LIFO) -- A Georgia "Helicopter Parent" Weighs In

Deirdre is an Atlanta parent who volunteered with the Atlanta Public Schools and is active in Georgia politics and education reform. As an adjunct professor at Georgia State University, Robinson School of Business, she is committed to sharing her expertise in business and investing in her students.
After many years as a "self-proclaimed helicopter parent," I have some guilt and a lot of passion for reform. My daughter attended an elementary school in the Atlanta Public Schools, and over the past ten years I have been an advocate and volunteer for the system, raising needed funds to support uniform and enrichment programs. My mother, aunt, uncles and friends have taught in the public school system.
Today I am "helicoptering" for all of our children, who need the best teachers Georgia has.
Yesterday Georgia lawmakers showed true leadership by voting yes on Senate Bill 184. The new law will eliminate seniority-based lay-offs in public schools, ensuring that schools can keep effective teachers and remove ineffective teachers from our classrooms in the current budget crisis.
Why is this good for students and families in Georgia?
The most effective teachers may or may not be the most senior teachers. Finally we will be able to judge each teacher as an individual professional!
Had legislators allowed ineffective teachers to stay in the classroom while effective teachers were laid off, we would have guaranteed that an optimal learning environment would not exist moving forward for Georgia's schools.
I hope that after this important step, now Georgia will go even one step further to adopt a process that rewards excellence in teaching, borrowing successful performance and evaluation models from other industries. School systems should determine teacher effectiveness through a combination of performance evaluation, attendance, classroom management, experience and extra school responsibilities. With the end of seniority-based lay-offs, schools could then do everything possible to make sure that teacher stays.
Change is almost never perfect. It is messy, complicated and essential. But by taking the emotion out and bringing common sense into the education reform debate in Georgia, state leaders have put us on the path to real change.
We will improve teacher quality in Georgia. We will elevate teacher effectiveness and stop the blame game. There is no such thing as a perfect educational system, but waiting for perfect would have taken a very long time, and our children were out of time.
Thank you to Georgia legislators for ending the "last in, first out" policies in my state.

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