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This past Sunday, A+ Schools was featured on the front page of the Post-Gazette. We’re truly grateful for the recognition of our work on an important issue like making sure all students benefit from high quality instruction.

We know that teaching is the most important job in Pittsburgh. Research shows that teachers are the SINGLE most important school factor in a child’s success.  And in Pittsburgh, we know that our most effective teachers can get students to learn almost twice as much compared to a failing teacher in a single school year.

As an organization that’s focused on equity, we’re highly concerned that furloughing teachers based on seniority only disproportionately affects our most vulnerable schools – like King, Westinghouse, and Faison – where more than 40% of teachers were furloughed in 2012. High poverty schools have higher numbers of new teachers. Teacher layoffs based on seniority are disruptive and unfair to students, teachers and principals, and important gains by teachers and students year over year can be lost.

We’ve supported efforts locally and at the state level to try to change these policies to be able to limit the disproportionate impact of furloughs on our most vulnerable students.   While changing these policies is critically important, it is not the only solution.  We know that mission driven schools, where a high performing principal and great teachers are working together to create positive teaching and learning environments, where parents are active and engaged and where students are partners in their own education – these are places where teachers want to teach and students can learn and staff turnover can be minimized.

Creating mission driven schools with positive teaching and learning environments is why we work with parents who want to play a bigger role in their children’s schools as advocates and support the staffs at those schools to support learning through Parent Nation. Creating mission driven schools is why we support student leaders in TeenBloc who want to end zero tolerance policies in their schools that push children out and have little impact on improving learning.  We’ll continue to provide our community high quality research and analysis about what works in schools so we can advocate for change based on data.

Our Board Chair said it best when she wrote to the Post-Gazette today, “We take a holistic approach — most of the work of the organization is alongside parents and youth in some of our most challenging schools supporting them as they advocate for quality and change.” We’re lucky to be able to do this work with such an involved community. And we’ll continue to fight for students with your support.