Peter Greene has a problem. He is at the top of his district’s seniority ladder. His wife is at the bottom. Under seniority rules as currently written, she would be first to be fired. He says she is an awesome teacher. Everyone tells him so.

But if the legislature eliminates seniority, he will be first to go, because he is the most expensive.

“This is exactly the sort of law that would conceivably save my wife’s position. Ironically, it would probably end mine. For a district in economic hardship, the most attractive layoffs would be to axe the most expensive teachers. Under an “economic hardship” rule, my career would have ended a decade ago. So in state like Pennsylvania where the legislature has been systematically underfunding schools, either my wife or I are vulnerable to furlough.

“I asked her what she thought about devoting herself to a career in which every step up the ladder of success would mean one step closer to being fired. She responded with some NSFW language (my wife is quite the sassmeister when she wants to be). And that’s the thing about non-seniority rules. Under the current system. it’s hard to get a lifelong teaching career launched and safely under way. Under anti-seniority systems, it’s impossible. The world needs more teachers like my wife, and my wife is not a dope. How do you recruit and retain her by saying, “You can have a short-term job in teaching, but you will never have a career.”

“Look, nobody has to tell me that the way this is working sucks. Sucks with a giant suckness that could out-suck the suck of the biggest darkest suckingest black hole in the universe. But as much as this sucks, every alternative proposed by reformsters sucks even more. Pennsylvania schools should be properly funded. My wife should be in a classroom for the rest of her life, and all present and future students deserve to have a teacher of her caliber and dedication. That’s the world we ought to be living in; destroying seniority gets us further away from that world, not closer.”