By California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Nothing is more important to our future than the education of our children. Today's kids are tomorrow's leaders. As adults it's our job to give them the tools to succeed.
I always tell kids, you're responsible for doing your homework and for studying your math, writing, reading and arithmetic. That's your responsibility. But ours is to give you great teachers.
Decades of research shows that nothing is more crucial to a great education than a great teacher. Yet right now there is a terrible state law that prevents some of our kids from getting the very best and brightest teachers.
This law says that even if a teacher is effective, loved by students, a superstar, none of that matters when layoffs are made. The only thing that matters is seniority. The last hired must be the first fired. As the LA Times said, "Schools have no choice but to ignore teacher quality." Think about that, to ignore teacher quality.
To show how absurd this is, last year and again this year several "Teachers of the Year" received layoff notices. Teachers of the year! Those are the best of the best.
Compare that to the private sector. If you are a standout salesman or chef, there is no way you'd lose your job if the company needs to make lay-offs. It's the worst performers that lose their jobs first.
What is worse, since most new teachers get assigned to low-income schools, this law is most damaging to our most vulnerable students. This week I visited Markham Middle School in Los Angeles. Last year that school lost half of its teaching staff. Meanwhile, other schools in nicer areas lost no staff. Now does that make sense, to get punished as a kid, when you grow up in a low income area, and when you go to a low income school? This is not fair.
I will not stand quietly on the sidelines and allow this injustice to continue. The ACLU has filed a lawsuit to fix this broken system. As Governor I will be standing on the side of our children in full support of this lawsuit.
Because too many times in this state we fight for what is best for the adults in education, rather than what is best for the children. By the way, I have also introduced legislation to right this terrible wrong. And I ask the legislators to join me.
Because all our kids, Black or White, Latino or Asian, rich or poor, deserve equal access to great teachers and great opportunities.
The above content reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily the policies of the National Governors Association.