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Seniority

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Seniority refers to the length of time an employee has remained with an employer. It is the principal determinant of pay levels for many public sector jobs, including teaching. It provides the basis for salary schedules within Pennsylvania schools.

Claims and counter-claims

Teacher unions defend seniority-based systems on the grounds that they promote stability and are fairer to most teachers than proposed alternatives like merit pay or skill-based pay. They contend that attempts to change this long-established and nearly universal system would disrupt public education beyond any likely benefits.

Critics of seniority assert that there is little if any evidence of a correlation between seniority and instructional ability (at least after a teacher has acquired about five years experience). They contend that reliance on a system that provides equal financial rewards for outstanding job performance and mediocre job performance is inherently unfair and has, over time, resulted in a deterioration of the overall quality of American public education.

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