By Tony Romeo

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — Sponsors say the crisis in Philadelphia public schools could boost chances for passage of a bill that would allow school districts to lay teachers off based on merit rather than seniority.

Supporters of the legislation say the situation in Philadelphia is shining a new light on the process of teacher furloughs in Pennsylvania.

At a state capitol news conference this morning, Dominique De Armond said she left the Philadelphia school district program that develops future principals when the teachers in her program were laid off due to lack of seniority.

“I left the path to school leadership in the district of Philadelphia, but I still think back on it all the time,” she said.  “I think back on my laid-off colleagues who worked relentlessly to make enormous gains with their students only to have their efforts thwarted by a system that ignores their success.”

The state House bill that would require school districts to use teacher performance to guide all furlough decisions is co-sponsored by Reps. Tim Krieger (R-Westmoreland County) and Vanessa Lowery Brown (D-Philadelphia).

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