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Advocates call on lawmakers to ensure public schools put performance first with teacher assignment, layoffs

Secretary Galvin delivers teacher effectiveness initiative petition to lawmakers today

Boston – Stand for Children yesterday called on Massachusetts lawmakers to change state law to give teacher effectiveness a more prominent role in decisions regarding teacher assignments and layoffs as Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin is expected to transmit the state legislature An Act to Promote Excellence in Public Schools.

The proposed initiative is supported by 85% of Massachusetts voters, according to a recent UMASS Amherst poll.

“Every child in Massachusetts deserves a great education, regardless of their background or zip code,” said Jason Williams, executive director of Stand for Children in Massachusetts. “As a former classroom teacher in one of our nation’s toughest school districts, I’ve seen firsthand the impact the achievement gap is having on so many of our children.

“Having been born and raised in Fall River, I find it alarming that the achievement gap remains wide in Massachusetts. One of the best things we can do to make sure no child is short-changed is to ensure there is a teacher who gets results in every classroom. This initiative does precisely that by putting performance first when deciding which teachers to retain.

“Lawmakers now have an opportunity to do what an overwhelming majority of Massachusetts voters support – ensure our schools promote and recognize teachers based on performance, not just seniority. Massachusetts is a state that values education; we encourage our elected officials to answer the call of the voters and live up to that value for all of our students so no child spends another minute in a classroom where they are not learning.”

The proposed initiative is the centerpiece of Stand for Children’s Great Teachers Great Schools campaign, a statewide effort to ensure every child in Massachusetts has access to an effective teacher.

If enacted, the initiative would ensure public schools put performance first when deciding which teachers to retain during layoffs and create clear, consistent and fair guidelines for public schools across the Commonwealth for assigning and retaining teachers.

Galvin’s office recently verified that 81,117 valid signatures were collected from voters, qualifying the initiative to advance to the legislature for consideration.

Lawmakers have until May to act on the proposed initiative, which must first be heard in committee in March. If the legislature and governor fail to act, voters will have an opportunity to approve the initiative on the November 2012 ballot after supporters gather an additional set of signatures from voters.