Teacher layoffs: Should seniority rule?
Scott McLeod, J.D., Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Kentucky. He also is the Founding Director of the UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE), the nation’s only academic center dedicated to the technology needs of school administrators, and was a co-creator of the wildly popular video series, Did You Know? (Shift Happens). He has received numerous national awards for his technology leadership work, including recognitions from the cable industry, Phi Delta Kappa, and the National School Boards Association. In Spring 2011 he was a Visiting Canterbury Fellow at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Dr. McLeod blogs regularly about technology leadership issues at Dangerously Irrelevant and Mind Dump, and occasionally at The Huffington Post. He can be reached at scottmcleod.net.
As budget cuts loom again in many states, employee termination, seniority, and 'bumping rights' are in the news. The essential issue is whether organizational leaders should be able to retain the employees they think are the most highly-skilled or whether seniority (or some other factor) should be employed instead. 'Highly skilled' in this instance means 'employee quality' or 'best fit for employer needs,' both of which are typically defined by the organization, not the employee or union.
Here is an indicative quote from Iowa in favor of seniority-based employment provisions:
"We're not going to have this debate on whether or not somebody who has worked for a year gets to stay over somebody who has devoted 30 years of their life because they work harder," [Danny Homan, president of Council 61 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees] said. "That is baloney."
And here's another, this time in favor of merit-based layoffs:
"You always want to focus on keeping your best-performing people," said David Keeling, a spokesman for the New Teacher Project. "The only thing worse than a layoff situation is one where you are forced to cut some of your best-performing people regardless of their contributions or their fit with their jobs."
there is basically no relationship between seniority and teaching ability. A wide and scarcely disputed body of research finds that teachers' additional experience stops paying off after about year three.
Education Sector reported that rethinking teacher contracts could free billions for school reform. And a very interesting study out of Indianapolis showed that a majority of sampled teachers thought that factors other than seniority (but not student achievement, apparently) should be considered for teacher layoffs.
The National Education Association recently made news for stating that it would encourage local unions to "waive any contract language that prohibits staffing high-needs schools with great teachers." In the past it had said that staffing and seniority issues should be left to local unions and districts. The American Federation of Teachers chimed in with its support.
I wonder if the majority of educators favor or disfavor seniority-based layoff protections. I wonder how the majority of citizens feel as well. If I had to guess, I'd venture that most citizens are against teacher seniority serving as the primary determinant of job protection. I'm not sure about public school educators. What do you think?
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- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
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- The program brought over 300,000 men to Vietnam who failed to meet minimum criteria for military service, both physically and mentally.
- Project 100,000 recruits were killed in disproportionate numbers and fared worse after their military service than their civilian peers, making the program one of the biggest—and possibly cruelest—mistakes of the Vietnam War.
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- Women and nonwhite candidates made record gains in the 2018 midterms.
- In total, almost half of the newly elected Congressional representatives are not white men.
- Those changes come almost entirely from Democrats; Republican members-elect are all white men except for one woman.
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