September 11, 2007
The case against the archaic, seniority-before-all-else system of teacher retention in Ohio's schools was never made clearer than with the July "riffing" of Dayton Public Schools teacher Homer Knightstep.
After retiring from the Army Rangers and raising a family with his wife, Knightstep went back to college and became a primary school teacher. In his second year at Kemp Elementary, Knightstep was recognized as Dayton's Teacher of the Year at a "big banquet with a tux and everything." Two weeks later, however, the district let Knightstep go because of rigid and obsolete seniority rules in the district's collective bargaining agreement. He was one of about 300 teachers cut after the district's levy failed.
Knightstep has found a new home as a third-grade teacher at Five Points East Elementary in Springboro (see here) where last year's third graders achieved a whopping 99 percent passage rate on the reading achievement test and 95.8 percent on the math test. The Gadfly knows Knightstep will continue to be an outstanding educator and an inspiration and role model to a generation of youngsters in Warren County.
But what of the students at Kemp Elementary-where 100 percent of the students are economically disadvantaged and the school is in academic emergency? Couldn't they use Homer Knightstep, too?