Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Should teacher seniority rules trump the rights of kids?- (LIFO)

An important lawsuit was filed last week challenging NJ's "last in, first out" (LIFO) quality-blind teacher layoff statute. Here's an excerpt from the press release:


Today, six parents from Newark, supported by Partnership for Educational Justice, filed HG v. Harrington, challenging the constitutionality of the state's "last in, first out" (LIFO) quality-blind teacher layoff statute. Under this law, school districts facing budget reductions are required to lay off teachers in reverse-seniority order, based only on the date when they started teaching in the district. The parents' lawsuit, filed in Mercer County Superior Court, asserts that New Jersey's LIFO law violates students' right to an education by unjustly requiring school districts to ignore teacher quality and retain ineffective teachers while laying off effective teachers, despite substantial research establishing that teacher quality is the most important in-school factor affecting student learning.


And here is a spot-on editorial by the Newark Star-Ledger:

A group of Newark parents has just filed a lawsuit, arguing that a state statute forcing districts to fire teachers based on seniority, not talent, is unconstitutional.
At the very least, we should all agree this policy defies common sense. Schools are required to lay off teachers based on the date they started employment, not their actual job performance.
So they end up keeping ineffective teachers while losing some of their best ones. How is that good for kids?
The main victims are poor students, because many already start out behind. Teacher quality matters more for them. Yet when our state reformed its tenure laws in 2012, lawmakers didn't touch the process known as "last-in, first out," which prioritizes seniority in times of layoffs.

…because many top teachers end up in the most desirable districts, some of the weakest ones are left in poor districts like Newark.
Even under the new tenure law, it can take years to get rid of them. Meanwhile, if district budgets force them to lay off tenured teachers, the youngest are the first to go – no matter how gifted or hardworking.
…New Jersey is one of only 10 states that still makes seniority the only factor in tenured teacher layoffs, and in one poll, 68 percent of residents said that needs to change. So whether it's ordered by a court or not, this much is clear: seniority has to go.

Should teacher seniority rules trump the rights of kids?


When teacher seniority rights trump merit, the biggest losers are kids. (Steve Hockstein | For NJ Advance Media)

By Star-Ledger Editorial Board

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