Sunday, May 15, 2011

New to Teaching, Idealistic, at Risk for Layoff

When I saw this article, "New to Teaching, Idealistic, at Risk for Layoff", on the front page of yesterday's NYT, I looked for the author, sure that it would be yet another Michael Winerip hatchet job – but was pleasantly surprised to see it wasn't written by him, and even more pleasantly surprised to see that it correctly captured that absolute insanity of doing layoffs purely by seniority (LIFO) (and had a nice plug for E4E):

Ms. Sherwood, 25, joined up with Teach for America, the program that puts top college graduates into the nation's most poverty-stricken schools, deciding that the best way to make a difference would be, as she put it on Monday, "to be there, where the rubber meets the road."

…Now in her third year of teaching, earning about $45,000, Ms. Sherwood has come face to face with another place where rubber and road meet: she is most likely among the 4,100 New York City teachers scheduled to be laid off under the budget Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg unveiled on Friday.

…If Ms. Sherwood is typical of these teachers, she could also be a symbol for those, including Mr. Bloomberg, who are lobbying to repeal the state law, known as last in, first out. Bright, motivated, capable — 72 percent of her school's students have scored at the proficient level in state science exams since she was chosen to run its science department in 2009 — she said she had been hoping to get tenure at the end of June and make a career in the city schools, but now is unsure.

Most of all, she wants to be judged on performance, not time on the job.

"I've gotten nothing but satisfactory reviews, the school's administrators want me to work for them, I've demonstrated I'm effective in the classroom," Ms. Sherwood said. "The reality of it is," she added of more experienced teachers, "there are people out there who just got settled in and aren't doing their jobs."

The school where Ms. Sherwood works, Mott Hall V, on East 172nd Street in the Soundview section, is typical of those that would be hit hardest by the cuts. It is relatively new (it opened in 2005), and its staff is made up primarily of junior teachers; the principal, Peter Oroszlany, said 60 percent of them had spent five or fewer years in the classroom.

Virtually all of Mott Hall V's 378 students are black or Hispanic; 87 percent are poor enough to qualify for the free lunch program. Nearly 1 in 5 do not speak English at home, and about the same number require special education services. Still, the school ranks No. 1 in math scores among middle schools in its district, and it received an A on the city's progress report this year.

…Ms. Sherwood called layoffs "a Band-Aidfix" for the city's budget problems, but said that if they were necessary, performance should decide who got to stay and who had to go. Last year, she joined Educators 4 Excellence, a group of teachers who advocate for merit-based pay, an evaluation system that takes into account students' test scores, and the strengthening of tenure requirements.


New to Teaching, Idealistic, at Risk for Layoff

Published: May 10, 2011

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