Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Keep Our Educators Working Act

Here's an open letter to Congress by 8 leading ed reform organizations (including EEP, DFER and Education Reform Now) about needed changes to the Keep Our Educators Working Act being considered:

The Act should help state and district leaders put an end to last-hired, first-fired policies, which exacerbate the number of people who lose their jobs during layoffs.

Most school districts employ a mechanical last-hired, first-fired approach to layoffs. As a result, new teachers are always the first to go, regardless of how well they may do their jobs. But according to a 2009 report from the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington (CRPE), such policies actually result in far more people losing their jobs than otherwise might be necessary.   

Teachers' salaries increase with longevity. That means that when school districts are forced to focus solely on teachers with the fewest years of experience-the ones who are paid the least-administrators have to eliminate more jobs to achieve the same dollar savings. In many districts, that can mean pushing out energetic veterans who have worked for four, five, or even six years.

The CRPE report illustrates this point. Using the seniority-based layoff policies now in effect in most districts, roughly 875,000 public school jobs would be lost nationally if districts had to reduce their salary expenditures by 10 percent. Nearly a quarter-million of those lost jobs could be saved by using seniority-neutral policies that take into account employee effectiveness. Of those who would have remained employed, about 125,000 would be classroom teachers.

To ensure the Keep Our Educators Working Act minimizes teacher layoffs, Congress should require states receiving these new funds to abandon seniority-based layoff practices. 

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