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Beloved Teachers Being Laid Off

By CityTownInfo.com Staff
June 2, 2009

As school budgets are slashed across the country, teacher layoffs are becoming widespread and even the most popular educators are being affected.

At the Fowler Middle School in Oregon, Steve Rice, an animated social studies teacher beloved by his students, is one of the at least 70 educators who will lose his job next year. Although he has more than ten years' experience, he has been teaching at Fowler for less than two years, which means that he is among the first educators to be cut.

"We made this huge connection with him," said Amanda Bintliff, an eighth-grader who was quoted in The Oregonian. "I used to fail social studies. Now I'm getting A's."

Dozens of students protested the teacher layoffs on the school's football field, some with Rice's name displayed on their T-shirts.

Robin Gensler, a school parent, agreed that the situation is a tough one. "A loss of a teacher is not just a personal loss," she said, "it's a public loss as well."

Rice's wife, Connie, teaches language arts to seventh-graders nearby and will lose her job as well. The couple and their two young children are now considering a move to Colorado, where they are told schools are still hiring.

At Coe Elementary School in Seattle, hundreds of parents and students protested the district's proposed teacher layoffs which are expected to affect 165 teachers. Three of the school's most popular and inspirational educators were slated to lose their jobs, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

"These teachers aren't interchangeable," noted Laurie Reed, a parent at the school. "The basic message is we should be keeping effective teachers, instead of giving them up."

State Rep. Reuven Carlyle agreed that the layoffs are disturbing. "I feel a deep sense of disappointment," he told the Post-Intelligencer. "I feel that we, as a Legislature, let the people down by not being able to fully fund education in this state." Last month, the state Legislature cut funding to K-12 education by $800 million.

Carlyle added, however, that Seattle Public Schools should be updating teachers union contracts which require that layoffs be carried out based solely on seniority. "The state has tied the hands of the district," he noted, "and the district has tied its hands further."

But parents and students argued that more needed to be done to offer support to teaching staff. "We are going to miss the teachers if they leave," said Harry Pierce, co president of the Coe PTA. "We've grown attached to them. They're family. So losing them would be a tremendous loss."

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