Saturday, June 18, 2011

Chatter: Teacher Hiring, Firing and Layoffs

Please click on title to go to original article with lots of links:
Chatter: Teacher Hiring, Firing and Layoffs
June 17, 2011
Morgan Stinson

Here's a quick roundup expanding on some recent tweets of voiceofs education reporter Emily Alpert:

• Principals in the L.A. Unified School District should be allowed to hire any teacher of their choice, says a report by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ). Displaced tenured teachers who aren't rehired elsewhere sh be permanently dismissed, it says, and principals should have be allowed to hire any qualified applicant, including teachers from outside the school system.

[See Maura Larkins post on this.]

The recommendations would cut guaranteed jobs for "must-place teachers," which are those fired for poor performance, conflict with an administrator, declining enrollment, or budget cuts.

[Maura Larkins' comment: We seem to have a mix-up in this sentence. Obviously, fired teachers would not appear on a "must place list." The writer probably meant to say that these teachers were pushed out of their schools for these reasons, and are looking for new schools.]

"Three-quarters of principals surveyed also said that teachers on the must-place list are rarely if ever a good fit for their school," the report says.

• "Seniority based layoffs hurt good teachers," according to another report, this one from Education Trust-West.

"The harm of a single layoff can be multiplied, as a cascading process of 'bumping' begins. The system is quite insane," a one of the report's authors told the New York Times in March. Bumping is when a junior school employee's job is given to someone who has seniority. Once a teacher receives tenure, they are able to bump junior teachers from their classrooms.

Last year at a discussion of "Waiting for Superman," a film about teaching and education in the United States, Bill Freeman told the audience teacher tenure, a toxic topic, doesn't exist. To those who use the term, however, teacher tenure is when "permanent teachers get warnings and time to improve before being fired, can take their case to a panel and appeal it higher if they disagree with a ruling."

• This year schools sent out thousands of layoff notices to employees but the layoffs weren't based on the effectiveness of school employees or the needs of school communities — the primary factor was lack of seniority, which can leave poor schools, where junior teachers tend to work, understaffed.

A proposed solution is California State Bill 1285, Protect Our Schools from Devastating Layoffs. The bill gives school districts tools to manage budget-based layoffs, to help ensure struggling schools don't take the brunt of cuts that leave children without teachers. It does not change teachers' right to collective bargaining.

Morgan Stinson is a junior at High Tech High and an intern at She can be reached at

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