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Letters: Seniority-based teacher layoffs must go

Re "Deasy provides fodder for both sides in lawsuit," Feb. 3

In his testimony during the trial on teacher tenure, former Sacramento Unified School District Supt. Jonathan Raymond described the pain of having to lay off his son's teacher — one of the top five teachers he'd ever seen.

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It reminded me of when a dad came before the Los Angeles Unified School District's Board of Education during a debate on layoffs. He spoke about his son, who had autism and had spent years with teachers who could not reach him. Not only was he not learning, he was also spiraling down in terms of his motivation and interest in school. And then, finally, by the luck of the draw, his son was placed with a teacher who understood him and helped him thrive.

With tears rolling down his face, he pleaded for us not to fire this teacher. It was the worst board meeting in my four years. Why? Because we knew what the right thing to do was, but our hands were tied. I voted "no" on seniority-based layoffs that day.

This lawsuit gives me hope that we will finally be able to protect great teachers and make things right for mothers and fathers, and their children, throughout California.

Yolie Flores

Los Angeles

The writer was a member of the L.A. Unified School District Board of Education from 2007 to 2011.

Re "Teacher tenure a hot-button issue," Letters, Feb. 5

The Times perpetuated a misconception by printing a letter asserting that teachers are excused from professional development. We aren't. As a teacher, I resent the implication that my ongoing training is any less valid than that of attorneys, doctors or dentists.

Yet despite the fact that teachers consistently update and hone their skills and attend training sessions, workshops and professional meetings to a comparable degree, our salaries pale in comparison with these other professions.

Teachers perform a highly demanding job that requires them to give attention to numerous stakeholders: children, parents, colleagues and administrators.

About half of all new teachers are likely to leave the profession within five years. Removing job protections will only worsen the struggle to hire and retain highly qualified teachers. If California wants to offer high-quality education for its children, we need to recognize and support the teaching profession.

Do you really believe the best and the brightest will put in the work necessary to become teachers if they are underpaid and can be fired suddenly?

Michele Harris-Padrón

Santa Barbara

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