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In case you missed it: Layoffs, seniority

By Lauren Goldman on Mar 8, 2011 03:00 PM

Pressure Mounts to Ax Teacher Seniority Rules NPR
In New York, the State Senate passed a bill that would remove seniority protections from teachers facing layoffs. Districts across the country are facing layoffs, and debate is brewing about how to select which teachers to lay off.

See also: Teacher layoffs probable; new way proposed Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Teacher Layoff Plans in Los Angeles Pose Broad Implications The New York Times
The real but misunderstood incentive to remove senior teachers Gotham Schools 
Group of young teachers petitions to preserve seniority rights Gotham Schools
Statement of Arne Duncan on the National Call on Flexibility and Productivity U.S. Department of Education 
With layoffs coming, it's time to stand up for seniority The Notebook blog

Tight Budgets Mean Squeeze in Classrooms The New York Times 
Due to many budget cuts and teacher layoffs, many public school class sizes are becoming larger, hindering the work of parents and education reformers who have been working toward smaller class sizes. 

See also: When It Comes To Class Size, Smaller Isn't Always Better TIME

Jay Mathews: Amid the SAT-Obsessed, this family doesn't live by the numbers The Washington Post 
In a society in which parents and students are very competitive in the college choice and application process, one family treats the process a bit differently. 

Evaluating New York Teachers, Perhaps the Numbers Do Lie The New York Times
Experts have developed a complex formula to calculate how much academic progress a teacher's students make in a year. The formula shows that some excellent teachers may not have the scores to prove it. 

Is there a national story of note that you think other Notebook readers would like to read? Please let us know. We're working on renewing this as a weekly feature, so your feedback is appreciated.

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Comments (3)

Submitted by Erika Owens (not verified) on March 8, 2011 3:02 pm

Please share any suggestions for further reading about seniority, class size, teacher evaluation, and more in the comments here. I know these issues have come up a lot lately, so it'd be great to build on this post as a place to gather some great reporting and analysis of these issues. Thanks!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 8, 2011 4:43 pm

I think the Gotham Schools article is interesting. I am pro seniority insofar as it protects good teachers from being laid off solely for budget reasons. I don't think seniority should be the _only_ factor. I think there are low hanging fruit that can be taken on during budget cuts.

Submitted by Philly Teacher and Parent (not verified) on March 9, 2011 4:34 am

Seniority and certification are not arbitrary measures. "Excellence" in teaching is more arbitrary - especially with the rating system used in Philadelphia. A principal may like a teacher's style / mannerism - I see this every year. Our principal has a few teachers who he identifies with (gender, age, background, mannerisms, etc.) and they get a lot of praise. Nepotism and favoritism will dominate who stays and who goes without a transparent way to determine which teachers stay in the classroom.

Using benchmark scores is problematic. For high school, there is only one year of PSSA so there is not a test to compare progress from 9th - 11th grade. (Don't tell me to look at 8th grade scores - that is old "data.") Grades mean nothing - grade inflation is rampant because we have to pass students per our administration.
This also unfairly "tarnishes" teachers in neighborhood high schools versus magnet schools. Teachers at Masterman, SLA and Central are not better teachers than teachers at Ben Franklin and Olney - they cherry pick students. Their students, by definition, have higher scores. (Based on my experience, there are few teachers at SLA, Masterman and Central who would last at most neighborhood schools.)

Then, there are many teachers who don't teach "tested" subjects since PA is far behind other states and only tests reading, math, writing, and science (and now the Keystones are going to be delayed** ) It is not fair to judge a science teacher on science scores - the test is not given priority because it doesn't count for AYP.

If sonority/certification aren't used, there will be quality teachers who either lose jobs or are "shuffled." We have some newer teachers that I hope are able to stay (and yes, some with a lot of building and SDP seniority that should retire). But, I don't want the principal to be able to make that decision arbitrarily.

**So much for "high standards" in Pennsylvania -

Mar. 8, 2011, Philadelphia Inquirer

Corbett nominee says new high school tests will be delayed

By Adrienne Lu

Inquirer Staff Writer
HARRISBURG - Gov. Corbett's nominee to lead the state's Education Department said at his confirmation hearing Monday that implementation of the new Keystone high school graduation exams would be delayed because field tests had indicated students were not well enough prepared for them.

The first exams were to be given at many schools this spring in Algebra 1, biology, and literature. Tests in seven other subjects were to be phased in by the 2016-17 school year.

"It's a good time to take a step back and make sure that, when we go forward to implement a higher-stakes test, that our students are able to pass the test that . . . we're forcing them to pass," Ronald Tomalis said. "The preliminary indications are that it's going to be very challenging in many areas."

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