There are reasons to think that in California the layoffs will increasingly be viewed through a civil-rights lens. Because novice teachers and long-term substitutes tend to be disproportionately clustered in low-income schools, those schools stand to be decimated by cuts and the resulting forced placements. The American Civil Liberties Union is already beginning a lawsuit saying that LAUSD’s cuts violate students in such schools’ right to a quality public education.
New Teacher Project‘s survey shows most teachers support the use of factors other than seniority, Sawchuk points out.
Classroom management techniques were the highest-listed factor in both districts, at 57 percent and 63 percent; in both districts more than half of teachers surveyed supported teacher attendance, and about half supported using evaluation ratings. Student performance was among the less-favored factors.
California didn’t make the Race To The Top finals because reforms failed to give administrators the power to assign or lay off teachers based on competence rather than seniority, editorializes the LA Times.
We already have detailed how the rigid layoff system has left many students at Markham Middle School in Watts with rotating substitute teachers. Nor did lawmakers address the need for common-sense procedures for firing bad teachers.
Markham’s principal recruited an “all-star team” of young, idealistic teachers willing to work in an inner-city school. With little seniority, more than half were laid off last summer. But experienced teachers didn’t want to work at Markham, so the school was forced to rely on substitutes. To avoid paying more to “permanent substitutes,” schools rotate the subs, the lawsuit charges. Some classes were “taught” by 10 different people in the first semester. Are these kids getting an education?