Jonathan Cetel is the founding executive director of PennCAN. He lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

In this Sunday’s Inquirer, State House Representative Vanessa Lowery Brown delivered a personal account of how district budget cuts and seniority-based layoffs impacted her family.

It takes courage to tell your story. Let’s thank Rep. Brown for sharing hers.

Her son, a special needs student at one of Philadelphia’s highest-performing public schools, was lucky to learn in the classroom of an engaged young teacher who advocated for his personal growth and made school fun again.

That is, until his teacher was laid off–a decision made on seniority alone.

Unfortunately, Vanessa’s son’s more experienced new teacher did not understand his needs. And as the year went on, it became clear the best option was to remove her son from this school and seek out a better alternative.

Sadly, Rep. Brown’s story is not uncommon. But we can prevent situations like this if seniority is not used as the sole basis for hiring, transferring or laying off teachers.

Join us in thanking Rep. Vanessa Brown for opening up about her experience with seniority-based staffing decisions.

We owe it to our kids to have the best teachers in the classroom, so let’s do everything we can to keep them there. Join the conversation on Twitter using #endsenioritynow.


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