Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Even Top Teachers Get Laid Off

Three cheers for Barbara Martinez for writing a story about what laying teachers off solely by seniority REALLY does to kids: far too often, it means a dynamic young teacher achieving remarkable results in the classroom is laid off while a horrific teacher with greater seniority is retained.  Shame, shame!

Then, in June, Mr. Leon lost his job. He was one of about 300 public-school teachers laid off in Newark this year, and, like many cities across the country, the law said the last teachers hired had to be the first ones fired—a method favored by teachers unions that takes no account of a teacher's efforts, abilities or effectiveness.

Basing layoffs on seniority "is a sad example of how policies aren't aligned for what's best for schoolkids," said Tim Daly, president of the New Teacher Project, a nonprofit that helps school districts recruit and retain quality teachers. In struggling urban schools in particular, students "can't afford to have a single great teacher cut in a way that maybe a kid in a suburban school district could," he said.

Mr. Leon was the only social-studies teacher to be laid off at Arts High. Of the remaining five social-studies teachers at the school, two were rated less than proficient last year. One of those teachers was rated in a category defined as "fails to establish a culture of learning...fails to communicate clearly...inability to use standard English."

The other teacher who was rated poorly was rated in a category in which a teacher "frequently calls out sick on staff development days" and has shown "patterns of absenteeism and tardiness" exceeding the district's standards. In the classroom, a teacher in this category "demonstrates minimal understanding of the subject," according to the school system.

Martinez knows what's really going on in Newark because she attended public schools there through 8th grade when she had to leave because she would have been beaten up at the high schools…


  • SEPTEMBER 20, 2010

Even Top Teachers Get Laid Off



 Subscribe in a reader