And here's Larry Sand on the insanity of LIFO: Despite bellyaching from the union crowd, the California education code's last in/first out (LIFO) statute must be tossed
California's fiscal problems have taken a toll on the teaching profession in California. And the Golden State's arbitrary seniority system, whereby staffing decisions are made by time spent on the job, has made things much worse. A recent Sacramento Bee story spells out the details:
Young teachers have become far more scarce in California classrooms after school districts slashed their budgets to survive the recession. From 2008 to 2013, California saw a 40 percent drop in teachers with less than six years' experience, according to a Sacramento Bee review of state data. As the state cut funding, districts laid off teachers with the least seniority and stopped hiring new applicants. Those employment practices, in turn, discouraged college students from pursuing the profession in California, as enrollment in teaching programs fell by 41 percent between 2008 and 2012. (Emphasis added.) Not surprisingly, while traditional public schools have been taking a beating, charters – which are rarely unionized and don't honor seniority – have flourished. In fact, there are over 50,000 kids on charter school wait lists in California. Charter schools educate about 10 percent of Sacramento County's students, but last year they employed 40 percent of the region's first- and second-year teachers. Teachers at five schools in the Sacramento City Unified District – all charters – averaged less than five years in the profession in 2013. They were Capitol Collegiate Academy, Sol Aureus College Preparatory, Yav Pem Suab Academy, St. Hope Public School 7 and Oak Park Preparatory Academy.
Studies that have been done on seniority have nothing good to say about it. For example, The New Teacher Project found that only 13 to 16 percent of the teachers laid off in a seniority-based system would also be cut under a system based on teacher effectiveness.
The nonpartisan California Legislative Analyst Office found that basing employment decisions on the number of years served instead of teachers' performance "can lead to lower quality of the overall teacher workforce."
Also, by not using seniority, fewer teachers would need to be laid off. Due to the step-and- column method of paying teachers, veteran teachers, whether they deserve to or not, make considerably more than younger ones.