Monday, March 21, 2011
SAN DIEGO A story in Voice of San Diego shed some light on what could happen in the worse case scenario of teacher layoffs in California and in San Diego. In short, poor schools would be ravaged by layoffs and staff turnover.
Public school teachers are represented by powerful unions that demand that layoffs be based on seniority. That means last hired, first fired. That also means schools with lots of low-income kids will be targeted for layoffs. Why is this the case?
In San Diego, as in many school districts, a system called “post and bid” has caused highly experienced teachers to gravitate toward higher-income schools. When job openings at high-income schools are posted, teachers with greater seniority get first crack at them and, typically, get them.
I’ve never been a school teacher so I can’t be sure why this is. But I suspect it's because low-income kids from poorly-educated families are tougher to teach. Their low test scores also reflect poorly on their teachers.
The high concentration of experienced teachers at wealthier schools has long been seen as unfair. And now it looks like poor schools kids will catch the brunt of the layoff hardship. Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein has written about this problem, and there are some possible solutions.
The “Voice” article points out that the Los Angeles Unified School District has worked out a deal in which schools with high turnover but increasing test scores will be spared layoffs. Will that happen in San Diego? Stay tuned.