Teacher of the Year in Sacramento is victim of layoffs

The “last hired, first fired” policy in some states has claimed the Teacher of the Year of the Sacramento City Unified School District in California.

The termination of Michelle Apperson for budget reasons is getting a lot of media attention, although I assume there are other Sacramento teachers with impressive credentials and awards among the 400 losing their jobs. The nine-year veteran is garnering headlines because she was recently named Teacher of the Year for the system.

According to News10/KXTV, where you can see an interview with Apperson:

Michelle Apperson just found out she was named “Teacher of the Year” for the Sacramento City Unified School District.

Despite that and the fact that she has taught at Sutterville Elementary School for the past nine years, she’s still losing her job due to budget cuts. She received her final notice in May.

“It hurts on a personal level because I really love what I do,” said Apperson. “But professionally, politically, I get why it happens.”

“I hate to see any teacher lose their job,” parent Kim Ochoa said. “But when you have teachers who are also winning awards like Ms. Apperson, they shouldn’t be cut.”

The district spokesperson Gabe Ross said who gets notice is not at the school district’s discretion, it’s mandated by state law. He also said that teacher layoffs are based on seniority, not performance.  “It’s an awful situation,” Ross said. “It’s another sign of how education’s funding really needs an overhaul.”

About $43 million in cuts were made to the school district this year. That’s on top of the $100 million worth of cuts in the past four years according to Ross.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

35 comments Add your comment

Road Scholar

June 21st, 2012
10:31 am

The continued dumbing of America. Didn’t/ wasn’t her award and related performance considered? Let the bad teachers go!

Formerteacher

June 21st, 2012
10:37 am

It’s not just education funding that needs an overhaul, as Mr. Ross says. It’s the “last hired, first fired” policy that needs to go as well. If your most effective teacher (or any employee in any job, since this policy isn’t exclusive to schools) is the “last hired” then it’s ludicrous that s/he is the one to get the ax. Why not the least effective teacher? Basing decisions on seniority is asinine.

We had to lose 4 teachers at our elementary school, and if 4 didn’t volunteer to transfer, then the principal would go by lowest seniority. Sure enough, a couple of the best teachers are now at other schools. And a couple who probably need a change or, better yet, retirement are still here. All because of seniority. I don’t begrudge other schools getting our good teachers, but it should be by their choice, not an archaic policy.

Gburdell

June 21st, 2012
10:38 am

Could it be due to the Teacher Union policy?

Howard Finkelstein

June 21st, 2012
10:38 am

I agree with the decision. Unfortunately, for this teacher she is a victim of circumstance. Last in, First out is the most fair way to handle layoffs etc. There is something to be said for tenure.

That being said this teacher will most certainly be brought “on board” at some other school and they will be lucky to have her.

Howard Finkelstein

June 21st, 2012
10:43 am

Formerteacher

June 21st, 2012
10:37 am

And how would you designate “most effective teacher” “least effective teacher” etc. Subjective judgements result into nothing more than lawsuits and the entire process falling into a dissary.

You must understand that many of todays “worker bees” view themselves as the best asset available to their employers and are just waiting, with baited breath, to involve legal counsel. These same individuals are usually the very ones who drain the moral, profits from their employer.

EmilyH

June 21st, 2012
10:51 am

This is just too disgusting. I am sickened and saddened that this could be due to a state law.

Any Editors Around?

June 21st, 2012
10:52 am

and this is in Atlanta and Georgia news because…? last time I checked, Sacramento was in California.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

June 21st, 2012
10:57 am

A CA district terminated its system-wide TOTY. A GA district transferred a principal because some parents at her forrner school didn’t want a Black principal. Which district’s educrats are more stupid?

lovelyliz

June 21st, 2012
11:08 am

Some perspective from private industry:

A coworker of mine, an irreverant, but knowledgable, rather profitable coworker was laid off. Replacing him was a guy who goes to lunch with the president of the company. When given this new position, he was given more $$$ than the guy he replaced. His numbers never matched the man he replaced. Never came close and that’s with the rest of us doing half his job for him.

Courtney

June 21st, 2012
11:23 am

True that our systems need revision, and true “the dumbing of America” is occuring. True that industrialized nations globally apparently out score American students. Hopefully we can correct the teacher union menatlity. Naturally in the corporate world this would’ve never happened for obvious reasons where real performance evaluation means promotion or the street. Hopefully the American spirit with prevail over higher acedemic scores, due to unmatched American vision, ideas, innovations, personality, art and culture such as movie and music, a good comedian every now and then (believe it or not), high tech such as Apple-Jobs and Microsoft-Gates, Ideals such as Facebook with freedom loving factions in China and Syria.Why does the world want to come to the USA to live and go to school? Why doesn’t the world want to go to east Asia instead? The world is busting down our doors to get in. Our schools are the best and our kids are the brightest. Academic scores are definitive in one sense but you can’t put your finger on “what is leadership in innovation and ideas” — that is hard to score. Teachers should be evauated on performance and in this case the kids win. Some students probably were devastated this teacher was let go….sad story, very unfair.

Realistic Educator

June 21st, 2012
11:27 am

Sacramento should visit Atlanta; they lay off those people the principals don’t like. And for the record, you can be an oldie but goodie too. I get so sick of these self righteous creeps who think that everything young is better. Most of the fellas in Atlanta’s administration like the younger cuter ones – can you teach; who cares? They will make sure that you get the best behaved classes and all you have to do is follow the script. And if the female administrators fear you, you get Tom, Dick and Harry been suspended 25 thousand times and they’re all in your room together.
“I’m from Teach for America and I dare you to mess with me Atlanta.” They’ve got APS over a barrel and the rest of the people who worked hard and paid for their education degrees just wait for the ax while the young chipper Teacher corps gets their jobs, go figure. It ain’t about unions. They made up a story about the grandmother teachers to get rid of them. I’ve seen too many young uncommitted teachers come for two yeasr, pay off their student loans and go on their merry way to Medical School, Law school or the Fortune 500. Blah!

Realistic Educator

June 21st, 2012
11:28 am

Two years, whatever…

Courtney

June 21st, 2012
11:32 am

I know little about the education system really, never been in it other than as a student. Is it not true that in the New York City Teachers Union it is nearly impossible to fire a teacher for any reason? Regardless of performance ? Is this also true in CA ?? Just something I saw on a documentary. Someone who knows, please explain this to us. Thanks

Prof

June 21st, 2012
11:39 am

Just as an FYI: the earlier blog, “Bloody Monday: Layoffs at Georgia Perimeter College” has been moved to “Older posts” but is still going fast and furiously. Interesting insights that pertain to USG, not just GPC.

teacher&mom

June 21st, 2012
11:39 am

Donaldo

June 21st, 2012
11:40 am

As a former CA resident and educator, you can start any grievance by looking at the local teacher union who supported, even encouraged these kinds of policies. The policy is there not to protect the students….but to prevent them from lawsuits, plain and simple…..very sad commentary on our antiquiated, self serving educational system.

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming...

June 21st, 2012
11:43 am

Yep. And in the non-union state when a friend of mine works, they got a new principal three years ago. He likes them young and pretty, so the veteran teachers are getting laid off one by one so he can hire perky, young things with big boobs and short skirts.

If allowed, corruption will find a way, union or non-union.

carlosgvv

June 21st, 2012
11:50 am

any editors – 10:52

In gereral, if something bad happens in California, it’s just a matter of time before it starts happening in the rest of the country.

NTLB

June 21st, 2012
12:05 pm

@Any Editors Ariound?—-it’s California news that can be our (Georgia) news much sooner than you think. Anything that happens anywhere in teaching impacts ALL in ALL STATES.

Batgirl

June 21st, 2012
12:07 pm

I don’t know about other places, but Teacher of the Year is a joke in my district. Even though we teachers vote for the award, it’s a well known secret that the principal often overrides us. And the district winner is always a PAGE member–no GAE members or unaffiliated teachers ever win. Also, no one ever wins twice. In fact, in my fourteen years, I’ve never even seen anyone nominated twice.

So, while it’s sad that this young woman is losing her job, I don’t really care that she is a TOTY. It’s just as sad that hundreds, maybe thousands, of teachers across the country are losing their jobs.

Eyes Rolling

June 21st, 2012
12:20 pm

Pathetic that Maureen couldn’t bring herself to note that teacher is being laid off because she doesn’t have “enough seniority.” That is 100% the fault of the worthless, destructive, greedy UNION.

Maureen Downey

June 21st, 2012
12:25 pm

@Eyes Rolling, Seems that you don’t grasp that “last hired, first fired” — which is in the very first line of the post — is a common descriptor for seniority policies.

The “last hired, first fired” policy in some states has claimed the Teacher of the Year of the Sacramento City Unified School District in California.
Maureen

shame on America

June 21st, 2012
12:50 pm

TFA is undermining teachers who have gone through colleges of education. Education was not their profession of choice, and as soon as the economy improves, they are going back to their high-paying corporate jobs. It is a shame that veteran teachers are being forced to retire after 20 years. As a young teacher, I have learned a lot from the teachers with 10 plus years of experience. I am a proficient user of technology, but I understand that this does not make me a great teacher. What has happened to the moral fabric of America? Why do we put people 50 and older out to pasture. America’s acceptance of gay marriage, but rejection of aging is why God has turned his face against this country.

Realistic Educator

June 21st, 2012
1:25 pm

@Shame on America…thank you for your comments. I don’t think many people will understand until it actually happens to them. In my opinion, “outsourcing” is similar to TFA. To save money, many jobs were shipped overseas to countries that pay people pennies on our dollars. As a result, those same countries have growing economies and burgeoning middle classes. The workers here who have had their jobs for years then get laid off and have to collect unemployment and then settle for jobs that don’t pay them a living wage. Instead of actually examining the policies of our politicians with ties to CEO’s of multinationals that make billions for stockholders and corporate managers at the expense of American workers, we exchange jabs at each other about teachers. We orchestrate stories about older teachers as representing some type of axis of evil educators’ group with unions in cahoots. Gone is the image of the wise and nurturing but stern teacher that we all loved. It is a shame and a disgrace to our nation. I expect to see a policy enacted soon that equates teachers with Air Traffic Controllers..no one over 35 is needed because they may not be able to pay attention due to their age.

shame on America

June 21st, 2012
1:44 pm

@ Realistic Educator: I agree with your comments as well. Hiring TFA teachers is akin to outsourcing. Age discrimination is real… unless you are rich. Then it does not matter. It is frightening to think what will happen to me when I am 40. Maybe I need to start looking for a retirement home.

catlady

June 21st, 2012
2:20 pm

Something doesn’t sound right. She had NINE YEARS and she was a RECENT hire? She is an elementary teacher; is she a specialist (art, music, PE)?

bootney farnsworth

June 21st, 2012
4:07 pm

last hired first fired didn’t matter a damn at GPC

Atlanta Mom

June 21st, 2012
11:17 pm

Color me confused. Haven’t we had blogs here that bemoan how inexperienced our teaching ranks are? The majority have less than 3 years experience (or something like that). And now you’re telling me in Sacramento all teachers have at least nine years of experience?

living in an outdated ed system

June 22nd, 2012
12:20 am

The fallacy of public education at work! Folks like Diane Ravitch and the NEA continue to support the last in, first out policy of layoffs, and that is absolute nonsense. You reap the seeds you sow.

Realistic Educator

June 22nd, 2012
12:41 am

Most expereinced teachers of 15 years or more worry about their jobs if they teach especially in APS. Here it is who likes you and who you know…same song, different disquise. They are trying to get rid of more expensive teachers under the guise of who is the most effective. It is all a ruse.

I suspect that you have a number of teachers in Sacramento who have longevity because of the policy there of using seniority to determine who should be layed off. A combination of seniority, evaluations, attendance and professional development should be part of the process in my opinion. However, teachers who have not been in the profession as long as others should not be angry aboutthe use of seniority. They might need it themselves one day. Expect to get no respect and support from the American public. This has been the trend over the last decade especially when people saw dollar signs in the billions for standardized tests and charter schools/vouchers. It is so depressing but not unexpected. Unfortunately that attitude transfers to students in the classroom. That is why the elderly female bus driver was bullied by the kids in Middle School. Our entire society is beginning to devalue the significance of the teaching profession and TFA with their their private 3 month training for new teachers isn’t helping. Their results don’t last and they move on..

Realistic Educator

June 22nd, 2012
12:44 am

Important note: I also know several TFA teachers who have stayed in the system after five years and work hard for students. They are true teachers with the rest of us in the trenches.

Realistic Educator

June 22nd, 2012
12:50 am

Excuse the typing errors…I did not proof as well due to the hour. My apologies to this blog.

NBCT

June 22nd, 2012
11:33 pm

Oh please,.. as if “Tacher of the Year” means anything other than the “most connected” or “the most popular”. I can cite dozens of crappy teachers that were “teacher of the year”.

Ole Guy

June 25th, 2012
4:05 pm

HERO YESTERDAY; ZERO TODAY.

All these accolades…Teacher of this that and the other; able to walk on water, climb school buildings with a single bound, more powerful than a speeding school bus powered by the hides of former recipients of master teacher awards, etc, ad nauseum…it’s all pretty gd sickening, and the ONLY way it will ever end; the ONLY way teachers will gain the professional stature they (feel that they) deserve is (yea yea, you’ve all read it before…same gd broken record) take command of your gd profession. Until THAT happens, I don’t give a damn. You teachers will piss an’ moan; whine and complain about your furlough days, your long hours of thankless toil, etc, etc, ad nauseum…I DON’T FREQUIN WANNA HEAR ABOUT IT, UNTIL…YOU…start taking command of your situations. Only YOU know what to do; only YOU can do it. Until then, you will ALL continue to be treated like expendable labor.

Ole Guy

June 25th, 2012
4:12 pm

Shame on America, let’s not start bad-mouthing the Lord…as I understand it, The Lord gave us all a little something called free will. The Lord ain’t gonna rub the educational ills within this Country and make it all better. ONLY TEACHERS can do that; so far, the teacher corps, both within Ga and across this Country have proven that they are NOT up to that job.