May 7, 2010

Junior Teachers Object To City's Seniority Layoff Policy

While the mayor's proposed budget calls for dramatic cuts, including trimming more than 6,000 teachers from city, the question of which teachers should be let go has sparked a big debate. NY1's Education reporter Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

 

Original video and article from NY1.

During the past few weeks, Sydney Morris and Evan Stone of Kingsbridge, Bronx have become spokespeople for those opposed to the requirement that if teachers are going to be laid off under the proposed new city budget, the most recent hires have to go first. But it wasn't until this week that they realized their jobs are at risk.

"I'm a third-year teacher, and prior to this I didn't think I needed to be nervous. But now looking at the numbers and seeing how drastic they are, I think everybody who is in their first second and third year should be nervous," says Stone.

Under Mayor Bloomberg's budget proposal, 6,400 teachers will lose their jobs. According to union rules, those would be the newest teachers, under a policy known as "Last In, First Out."

Morris and Stone have started a group called Educators For Excellence fighting to change that policy.

"If we have a system that's laying off people without ever looking at their quality or their ability, then we're going to end up with some great teachers getting fired and that's going to hurt the students," says Stone. "And for us, there are a lot of teachers, we've had almost 500 sign onto our petition already, saying they don't want this to be the system."

This cause also has friends in high places, especially the mayor and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, who have been lobbying hard for the "Last In, First Out" policy to change.

The teachers' union says there's no accurate way to evaluate who is doing a good job and who is not. The chancellor disagrees, arguing that almost 2,000 teachers have received unsatisfactory ratings and another 1,000 teachers currently do not have positions in schools yet are still on the payroll. He says they should be the first to go.

"We certainly have many other measures that are better than seniority," says Morris.

Yet time is running out. These first teacher layoffs since 1976 will undoubtedly be a complicated process, but it must be done before September and cannot be done at the last minute.

Morris and Stone say their school would lose up to 30 teachers under "Last In, First Out," and while some of those positions would be filled by more senior teachers from other schools, the disruption across the city will be massive.