School boards are now working on their budgets, so more of these stories are likely to unfold over the coming months. The problem is that state law requires districts to use seniority as the sole factor in determining which teachers to lay off even though experience doesn’t always add up to greater effectiveness — as confirmed by a recent study from The New Teachers Project. There are great teachers with three years of experience and great teachers with 33 years of experience.
Seniority made more sense when we lacked any objective way to assess teacher performance, but last June Gov. Tom Corbett and the General Assembly approved a new teacher evaluation system. Teacher performance will now be judged on a combination of classroom observations and multiple measures of student achievement.
The purpose of this evaluation system is first and foremost to provide teachers with meaningful feedback to help them improve their practice and grow into highly effective classroom leaders. If we are going to build a 21st-century education system, we need to professionalize the teaching workforce by rewarding excellent teachers and protecting them in times of layoffs. Factoring in performance-based evaluations during layoffs could be an effective way to do so — and, really, it’s just common sense.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor
As a high-school teacher in the West Island, I read with great interest the Feb. 2 Gazette article by Janet Bagnall on why teachers are leaving the profession (“Study why teachers are leaving field: experts”). Having attained the benchmark of five years of teaching experience, I admit to occasionally contemplating leaving the field myself. Don’t … Continue reading »
The Chicago Board of Education targeted teachers in black neighborhoods for layoffs in 2011, firing African-American teachers at a higher rate than white coworkers, the teacher’s union claims in a class action. Chicago Teachers Union Local 1; the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO, and three teachers sued the Board of Education of the City of … Continue reading »
What’s the reason so many new teachers quit the profession or move to a different school? The heavy workload? Low salary? A paucity of classroom resources? An absence of autonomy? The “always-on,” continually demanding nature of the work? None of the above. The main reason is their principals. To find out what factors influence novice … Continue reading »
I had a gap year before I went to university where I spent a year in China, just to travel and learn Chinese but I ended up teaching English to university students. I really enjoyed it – and that was the first time I’d thought about teaching. I’d gone just to experience being abroad, but … Continue reading »
Teacher layoffs may save the state money in the short term, but a report by the state Task Force for Educator Excellence says over time that trend may be one of the things keeping people from wanting to stand in front of a classroom. California’s school kids have unzipped a whole new school year and third grader … Continue reading »
The White House has released a new report that finds that the loss of teachers and other education staff is forcing communities into difficult choices that harm our children’s education and future, including increasing class sizes and shortening school years and days. The report shows that more than 300,000 local education jobs have been lost … Continue reading »
Throughout American history, almost every generation has had substantially more education than that of its parents. That is no longer true. When baby boomers born in 1955 reached age 30, they had about two years more schooling than their parents, according to Harvard University economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz, who have calculated the average … Continue reading »