Put Best People In Our Schools
Seniority – how long a person has held a particular job – may have some legitimate uses in managing public schools. But it should never, ever be allowed to stand in the way of administrators being allowed to place and keep the best people in school jobs ranging from custodians to principals.
As we reported last week, West Virginia School Service Personnel Association officials are concerned about a new state requirement for teachers’ aides.
Part of the major school improvement law enacted in 2013 affects teachers’ aides who work in pre-kindergarten classes. They are required to take nine hours of online training and obtain state authorization to work as teachers’ assistants.
It sounds innocuous, but WVSSPA Executive Director Joe White is concerned about a side-effect of the rule. He said that under the law, seniority for teachers’ aides depends on when they comply with the new training and authorization requirements. That means an experienced aide with a substantial amount of training could have less seniority than a new aide whose training consists solely of the nine hours of state-mandated online work, White said.
Obviously, that makes no sense. But like most complicated legislation, the school improvement law contains flaws. Legislators should correct them, with the aides’ seniority issue on their priority list.
But they also should look at state laws concerning seniority for educators and all other public employees. Again, time on the job may have some importance – but it should not tie administrators’ hands in any way in how they hire, promote, place or even fire people. If West Virginians are to have better schools – and that probably is the most pressing public policy issue in our state – the very best people available must be in every education-related job.
If seniority rules stand in the way of that in any way, they need to be changed immediately.