Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"once in a lifetime" teacher likely to be layed off because of LIFO*

My daughter's English teacher is one of the best either of my children has ever had.  His instruction and intense feedback is superb.  A school administrator describes him as a "once in a lifetime teacher."

In the cuts that are proposed as part of our belt-tightening 2011-12 school budget, this teacher would be terminated because he was one of the last teachers hired.

*LIFO = Last In First Out = Policy mandated by New York State law that bases teacher layoffs solely on seniority and not on merit.

Related:  Keep Great Teachers


  1. I know you feel very disappointed about this (the way I feel about the proposed orchestra cuts, in fact), but the reality is, this teacher could still have been a target for layoffs without LIFO. My experience is that truly good teachers are often not popular with the administration, who feel threatened by them. And under those crazy statistical evaluation systems, who knows where he might have come out? In addition, middle school English is not a high-need area, so those positions are always at risk.
    Sometime I should tell you about the horrible experiences my mother had teaching at a non-tenure private school. That school is a big reason why I do not see private schools as offering a solution to our educational problems.

    There is nothing good about laying off teachers. Someone is going to get hurt. However, remember that 50% of all new teachers leave in the first few years ANYWAY. If you have to lay off people, it creates the least damage to choose those who are statistically most likely to leave your school even without layoffs.

    And while I am at it, if teaching is such a wonderful, overpaid, cushy, over-benefited position, why do 50% of all newbies leave in the first 5 years?

  2. Maybe if the job had more status as a true professional career, fewer teachers would leave. Many educators believe that LIFO hurts the profession in this regard.

    I'm sure administrators can be a problem and I have heard horror stories about that. Happens not to be the case here.

  3. This cut will not affect my kids directly, but I am still very disappointed.

  4. But the trend is away from treating teachers as professionals, not towards it. Look at Florida. I can't imagine anyone wanting to work under that system unless they had no other options. Professionals in industry don't get treated like that. They aren't forced to adhere to scripts all day, they aren't expected to buy their own supplies, and they can go to the bathroom when they need to. Most importantly, they aren't being judged based on slight performance differences among kids who are NOT paid themselves, have no particular interest in the success of the institution, and can't be fired.
    Honestly, as a working engineer, I was NEVER evaluated using weird statistical formulas, the way they propose with teachers. In fact, I saw very little use of data in evaluations.
    The problem is that administrators, politicians, and even the taxpaying public, see teachers as more like nurses than engineers or managers. They are fields where getting vast numbers of warm bodies is ultimately more important than getting quality. This attitude has not been good for nursing, where there are big labor shortages, and where we import lots of immigrants to fill the slots, and I don't think it is good for teaching. As we make working conditions more punitive, I think we will see the same effect.

  5. why do 50% of all newbies leave in the first 5 years?

    The research I've seen says working conditions.


    Here's the abstract of a 2006 paper on teacher pay & teacher exits:

    "Do Teachers Really Leave for Higher Paying
    Jobs in Alternative Occupations?
    Benjamin Scafidi, David L. Sjoquist, and Todd R. Stinebrickner

    There is a common perception that teacher attrition is driven in large part by the allure of
    higher paying jobs in alternative occupations. However, little is known about what teachers do
    when they leave teaching. We examine the extent to which teachers leave teaching for higher paying
    jobs by merging several years of administrative teacher records from the education system in
    Georgia with salary information from the Georgia Department of Labor. We find strong evidence
    that very few of those who leave teaching take jobs that pay more than their salary as teachers."

  6. Speaking of nurses, I've just emerged from a year and a half spent with nurses, who saved my mother's life several times.

    So naturally I don't see managers, engineers, or teachers as a superior class of employees.

    The immigrant nurses my mother had were typically superb.

  7. Restricted bathroom breaks sounds pretty tough.

    I don't know the main reasons why the status of teachers seems to have fallen, but one factor I consider is that the science behind teaching is shaky. Doctors use "scripts" in that they adhere to research-backed treatment methods. I don't think educators do the same.