Avoiding a senior moment

Is this the beginning of the end for last hired, first fired? At least a few cities facing budgetary difficulties have come to an obvious realization: Firing teachers based on seniority rather than performance is going to seriously damage the quality of their respective workforces. New York City Chancellor Joel Klein has gone straight to parents to rally his cause, arguing that because newer teachers tend to be concentrated in the neediest schools, last hired, first fired rules will unduly punish disadvantaged students. The Los Angeles Unified School District is contemplating a policy change too, egged on by the LA Times editorial board. “If there’s a silver lining to the dire school cutbacks,” it wrote on Monday, “it’s how much the public has learned about the arcane systems for compensating and laying off teachers and firing the incompetent ones.” And younger teachers themselves, targeted by said “arcane systems” are standing up for themselves; in New York, they’ve formed their own “union” of sorts called Educators 4 Excellence, urging Klein and NYC’s United Federation of Teachers to change the rules. Before the feds enact another misguided bailout for our schools, they might consider the salutary effect that scarcity can bring.

Last Teacher In, First Out? City Has Another Idea,” by Jennifer Medina, New York Times, April 24, 2010.

Opinion: Yes, blame the system,” Los Angeles Times, April 26, 2010

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