03 Mar 2011

When Layoffs are Necessary, Bad Teachers Should Go First, Not Newest

From a great editorial from the Washington Post:

In most school systems, seniority trumps other considerations in determining whether a teacher stays or goes. As the New Teacher Project found in a searing new report, it’s actually illegal in 14 states to consider any factor other than a teacher’s length of service when making layoff decisions. Only the District and three states – Arizona, Colorado and Oklahoma – require schools to consider job performance in making teacher layoff decisions.

Changing this counterproductive policy takes on a new urgency as states grapple with fiscal challenges. Former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle A. Rhee’s StudentsFirst advocacy group has calculated that at least 160,000 teachers are at risk of losing their jobs. If “last in, first out” is the rule, much of the best talent will be lost. In addition, schools serving the most disadvantaged are always the hardest hit when newer teachers are let go.

This is such an insane policy… I’ve always understood the idea that teachers don’t like being judged by what they see as bad criteria, but to use seniority as the main criteria is flatly stupid. I have a hard time even imagining rules that could be worse… and people have been asking teachers unions to come up with ideas for years, which they’ve refused to do.

They’ve really brought a lot of the ire pointed at them on themselves. The sooner they work to find better ratings of their ranks, and stop protecting the worst among them, the better all sides will be.

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0 thoughts on “When Layoffs are Necessary, Bad Teachers Should Go First, Not Newest”

  1. I’m happy to stipulate that there’s merit to this notion. But I’m very skeptical that a viable path to undertaking this change will occur any time soon.

    Currently, the only possible alternative to seniority is to let the principal decide. I doubt that will ever fly.

  2. Isn’t anyone paying attention to academic performance reports being released indicating our education systems are failing to teach our children? It seems there is enough data being collected (from all of the reports that are generated) to evaluate school/teacher performance. That would be a place to start. There are many industries still using seniority as an indicator of performance which just isn’t right.

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