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Cuts hurt learning

March 13, 2009

Re "Looming layoffs revive debate on teacher seniority," March 10

The Times' article could create the impression that experienced teachers are neither enthusiastic nor effective.

This debate about which teachers should be laid off is wrongheaded. In my mind, the problem is that our state has a GDP about the size of France's, yet ranks 47th in per-pupil spending as a percentage of personal income and is now considering paying even less for education.

"Boots on the ground" is a concept that is relevant not just in warfare. We should be increasing funding, not decreasing it -- especially during these distressed economic times. That way, both senior and junior teachers could remain in the trenches to fight the war on ignorance.

Kirk Thomas

Los Angeles

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I am a mother of two school-age children, and the more I learn about teachers unions, the more I dislike.

I absolutely support keeping teachers in the district based on merit, not seniority. That's just common sense. In any other occupation, if an employee does not adequately perform his job, he can be fired.

Why is it that an inadequate teacher can keep his job year after year? Not only is this practice unfair to enthusiastic teachers coming down the pipeline, but it is extremely unfair to our children.

Laurie Stevens

Northridge

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Eliminating seniority based on merit sounds good, but there is a downside: Merit evaluations are extremely subjective. In addition, morale could suffer as a result of less collegiality and more cutthroat competition.

New teachers may have more enthusiasm (and get less pay), but often it takes years to develop classroom management techniques.

Mark Alexander

South Pasadena

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Why are we debating which teachers are laid off first? Eliminate positions that are not on school sites -- the people who never see a student or a classroom. Cut pay for administrators and consultants who do not serve our students directly.

The hundreds of students I see daily will notice if their teacher is gone next year. They will not notice if the district or local district administrator is no longer there.

Stop balancing the budget on the backs of teachers and students. Make the classroom the top priority and eliminate district waste at the district level.

Noriko Nakada

Los Angeles

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