Which students suffer most from teacher layoffs? Anyone surprised it’s poor, minority students?

With cash-strapped systems across the country resorting to laying off teachers, there is increasing concern over which teachers are being let go and why. Now, the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington says seniority-based layoff policies disproportionately affect the programs and students in their poorer and more minority schools than in their wealthier, less minority counterparts.

The center looked at 15 largest districts in California and found that teachers at risk of layoffs are concentrated in schools with more poor and minority students. (You can read the entire brief “The Disproportionate Impact of Seniority-Based Layoffs on Poor, Minority Students” on the center’s Website.)

According to the center:

In these districts, if seniority-based layoffs are applied for teachers with up to two years’ experience, highest-poverty schools would lose some 30 percent more teachers than wealthier schools, and highest-minority schools would lose 60 percent more teachers than would schools with the fewest minority students.

The analysis concludes: “Where districts seek to minimize the effects of budget reduction policies on students . . . it is clear that the disproportionate impact of seniority-based layoffs on high-poverty and high-minority schools must be considered.”

In reading the brief, I found this comment interesting as there has been little discussion by policymakers and school boards in Georgia about the impact of teacher layoffs in Georgia:

So what’s the effect of these layoffs on students?  For those who believe teachers are interchangeable, swapping out a junior teacher for one from across the district might not seem so problematic.  And yet, a growing body of research has documented that “churn” in teachers in some schools is in-deed problematic, particularly to its ability to function coherently. When schools see more teacher turnover, established relationships are lost— such as with families and teachers, between teachers, and with principals and teachers. Teacher turnover means that process of building and sustaining working relationships starts over.  Additionally, site-based professional developme and teachers reassigned may be unhappy in their new assignments.  All of these fagether to further destabilize schools with high turnover, to the detriment of students

153 comments Add your comment

Booklover

May 21st, 2010
9:26 am

The lawmakers of Georgia have made it clear that they only care about the constituents who can pay for fishponds, three-martini lunches, and steak dinners.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Alan Richard, Maureen Downey. Maureen Downey said: Which students suffer most from teacher layoffs? Anyone surprised it’s poor, minority students? http://bit.ly/aV1aDq [...]

Proud Black Man

May 21st, 2010
9:49 am

This isn’t new Maureen. Amerikkka has shown, consistently, that education is not a priority in minority majority districts. However the white right doesn’t mind building more prisons.

EnoughAlready

May 21st, 2010
9:53 am

I agree and believe that high churn for teachers is a problem. My daughter is always following up with classmates about where old teachers are currently. The kids, parents and other faculty bond with each other.

What happened to the good old days when teachers were a part of the community and not just for a certain contract period?

My high school principal was my mothers math teacher. My english, history, PE and math teachers taught all of my older cousins, my aunts and uncles. We couldn’t get away with anything and the expectations were set.

Randy

May 21st, 2010
10:02 am

Ain’t Republican word great!

With the money I’ve saved from a decade of tax cuts, I’ll be closing on my second beach house this afternoon.

God Bless conservative leadership for rewarding those who want to work!

The Aristocrat

May 21st, 2010
10:20 am

How dreadfully dreary for all those poor, oppressed minorities. But to quote my good friend, Ty Webb, ‘the world needs ditch diggers too, son.’

Go Fish

May 21st, 2010
10:20 am

Sonny Perdue has sent millions of taxpayer dollars down to his home town for the brilliant “Go Fish” program—it’s created thousands of new jobs!!!!! Sonny—economic genius!!!!!

Bill

May 21st, 2010
10:25 am

Of course the lower social economic areas are going to be effected the most. Those are the districts that aren’t putting money into the pot and a majority of the people are already riding the government’s coat tails. At what point do we stop supporting these people and force them to take responsibilty for themselves and the many children they keep having. I see these same people driving around in cars with expensive rims and stereo systems, designer clothes, and the best cell phones. Where are the priorities. Its “what can I get” attitude that keeps them where they are at. They have these outlandish dreams of being a rapper or basketball star and don’t focus on education. They want, want, want, and have no concepts of working hard to earn it. This isn’t everyone, but it is a lot.

fulldawg

May 21st, 2010
10:26 am

Let us not forget the highway to “Go Fish” territory (and the Republican majority in the senate and house that have supported Sonny on all that he has gotten. He will never have to run again and they do.

Elizabeth

May 21st, 2010
10:27 am

It is not always the poor minority student. The ones who nearly ALWAYS get hurt ar the ones wh are quiet B-C studetns who are ignored while teachers deal with discipline problems and low performing studdents who do not have the skills or do not care and do not try. The are generally not behavior problems or failing or much below gradelevel, so they get little of the teacher’s time. But no one thinks anything aout it because they are in the silent majority.

And why don't they stay?

May 21st, 2010
10:30 am

Why do people seem to think it is the republicans fault that teachers in minority districts won’t stay and therefore have less seniority? By definition, teachers are less likely to stay at troubled schools. Who would prefer to teach at a school where students and parents largely don’t seem to care about their education, it is dangerous, etc when they could teach elsewhere. Sorry, but blaming ‘whitey’ doesn’t make any sense in this case.

The real problem is keeping teachers due to seniority. It is a shame to have to fire any teachers due to the budget – but facts are facts. If they must be let go, principals should name the bottom 10% of their teachers based on ability – at troubled and other schools – regardless of seniority and those are the ones that should get walking papers. In fact, the bottom 10% should probably be let go every year. Why do we keep low performing teachers when low performers in any other business would be let go? Our students deserve better.

Confussedd

May 21st, 2010
10:31 am

I am a bit offended by Proud Black Man because I have taught in a high minority school and saw that the poor working conditions were not all caused by the school. Kids with their pants on the ground, cursing out the staff, fighting in the hallways and their parents whom rarely cared what was going on in school was not motivating. When the parents did come in to complain they often were stoned, drunk or worse behaved than their kids. Proud Black Man should have to stand and listen to some kid cussing him out and threatening him and then be told by the administration that the lawyers say their is nothing they can do. I am sure his outlook would change if he saw the stupidity that public schools are dealing with from both legislation, students, lawyers, parents, and administrators.

the prof

May 21st, 2010
10:33 am

P Blakkk Man….you aren’t black. Quit being a pretender.

Samantha

May 21st, 2010
10:33 am

This is so unfortunate that minority students have to suffer because of the bad decisions our law makers are making! I am TOTALLY against laying off teachers! Put it this way…would you rather a child to get educated with the best education in this country, or would you rather that same child that lives across town from where you live – have him or her bash your head in because why??? They were NOT given an equal chance for a good education in this country! This is the reason why Chinese children are doing so much better than American children!! WAKE UP LAW MAKERS AND OPEN YOUR EYES AND STOP BUILDING PRISONS’ FOR OUR CHILDREN IN THIS COUNTRY!!!

Devil's Advocate

May 21st, 2010
10:33 am

Oh yes, the plight of the quiet white kid…so long oppressed. Thank you for bringing this terrible situation to light.

john

May 21st, 2010
10:33 am

Another slanted liberal crap study….

Since the wealthy, working neighbors actually pay all of the taxes, yes, they should get more say

CRB

May 21st, 2010
10:38 am

I also take exception to “Proud Black Man’s” comments.

My mother, grandmother, sister, and uncle were (or are) all public school teachers and I grew up intimately aware of what public school teachers endure on the job.

I can tell you, with some authority, that parental support and involvement are the single biggest factor in many cases. Kids are resilient and can learn in a variety of situations if they have support at home that supports the effort.

Unfortunately, some demographics provide more parental support than others. Its a sad fact.

Proud Black Man

May 21st, 2010
10:48 am

Proud Black Man could care less who “takes offense” at my remarks. It is what it is. And for you tea (fill in the name that cannot be spoken” complaining of “Kids with their pants on the ground…” and “…parents did come in to complain they often were stoned, drunk or worse…” go somewhere else with your racist stereotypes.

RobertNAtl

May 21st, 2010
10:49 am

It’s not about the “plight” of the “quiet white kid” (nor did Elizabeth posit the “quiet kid’s” race); it’s the plight of the quiet kid of *any* race who are ignored while teachers deal with the continually disruptive students. It is a real problem in our schools, and I would submit that many parents who enroll their children in private schools are doing so not for reasons of racial prejudice, but rather in an attempt to avoid the disruptive students who make it more difficult for the “quiet” students to learn because the public school system is either unwilling or legally unable to effectively discipline the students who are continually disruptive.

H

May 21st, 2010
10:49 am

By minority students, I assume you mean the white students??? I know what you’re hinting at…Black and Hispanic are the poor minority blah, blah, blah…Have you looked at these statistics yet??? Click the link below….This is the state of state department of Ga. Most of the metro schools are all Black…how do you think the “minority” white kids who attend those majority black metro schools feel when you still refer to the Black and Hispanics as the “poor minority”??? What about the poor minority white kids??? Notice the rapid increase in Hispanic population in the school system between 2000-2008… and then look at the free lunch increase as well…alarming! And your tax dollars pay for this! The sad thing is people take advantage of programs such as free lunch which take away from other areas of costs such as teacher pay. Unfortunately, the portion of the Black and Hispanic population who take advantage of there “free” lunch (by the way, there is no such ting as free lunch, somebody has to pay for it) is disproportionate to the White population who is on free or reduced lunch. I’m sick and tired of hearing how (what you call) the poor minority (Black and Hispanic) populations don’t have enough and how they will struggle even more unless we throw more money their way…poor Black, White, Hispanic students are poor because their parents made poor choices…90% of them and their parents don’t care about their education or the money that is spent on their education. All I’m saying is, don’t leave out the poor minority white kids Downey…

http://www.georgiaeducation.org/ReportCenter/reportcenter.jsp

Just A Grunt

May 21st, 2010
10:51 am

I will listen to these “It’s all about the chillins” argument when the teachers unions don’t openly oppose efforts for the state to get some federal grants just because they don’t like the governor. Until then there is no reason those in academia should be spared some of the pain the rest of us are feeling. Maybe if they got out of their classrooms once in awhile they could get some sense of how bad things are. On the other hand if they had any marketable skills they might have been able to get a job in the private sector. Teachers hate jocks because even jocks manage to get a business management degree to use once their athletic career is over. For teachers they can’t bear the thought of life outside the walls of a school.

ChristieS.

May 21st, 2010
10:53 am

@And why don’t they stay: “If they must be let go, principals should name the bottom 10% of their teachers based on ability – at troubled and other schools – regardless of seniority and those are the ones that should get walking papers.”

The problem with such a blanket policy would be that you would have very few new teachers in your system. In my opinion, which seems to be borne out by the ongoing RIFs, the majority of “emerging” teachers are those who are new to the profession. Teaching is definitely a talent, but just like any other skill, talent only takes you so far. PRACTICE hones your talent from adequate to good, and in some cases, exceptional. A new teacher gets that practice in the first years of their career.

Now, if you want to talk about providing a paid, full-time apprenticeship as a co-teacher for the first couple of years, then we could talk. I’d be willing to work that apprenticeship if part of the “wage” was payment of my student loans plus a stipend to help pay my bills. My personal situation could handle that. I don’t speak for anyone else.

Wonder

May 21st, 2010
10:53 am

Proud of what

Wonder

May 21st, 2010
10:53 am

… being a dumbass

ChristieS.

May 21st, 2010
10:56 am

::sigh:: filtered, and so early, too! :D

Maureen Downey

May 21st, 2010
10:56 am

Christie, You are out.

ChristieS.

May 21st, 2010
10:59 am

LOL, thanks Maureen. I saw my “escape” just as I posted my whine. :D

godogs

May 21st, 2010
10:59 am

Yes, the poor and minoritys were hit hardest. But, we spend soooooo much money on them to begin with in remediational classes, resource officers, ISS, alternative schools, afterschools, summer schools, transportation, food, etc…that they have to take a hit just like everyone else.

In our schools systems, we spend so much time and effort on those in the back, that we forget about those in the middle (black, white, hispanic,) who would benefit the most from the educational process. I’m so sick of hearing about the back of the pack. We are dumbing down our schools for those who don’t care about school to begin with (parents included).

Why not do a study on the sufferage of stduents who are in the middle class that have to endure the behavior problems of others or have to go slower in their classes because of the kids who refuse to do their homework and classwork! I would like to address that issue.

Angela

May 21st, 2010
10:59 am

Howdy Confussed,

You know it is a shame that everyone can tell us more about our jobs than we can. Everyone, has a solution but ain’t coming in to solve or use their solution. I have always heard that if you don’t have a sound and active solution to the problem you are D— sure a part of the problem. Hugs!!!!!!!!!!!!

P.S. We as educators don’t get paid to deal with STUPID and guess what due to pay decreases we showwwwwwwwwwwwwwww (surely) don’t get paid to deal with STUPID. XOXO

Proud Black Man

May 21st, 2010
11:03 am

@ Wonder

Is that the best you can come up with?

TW

May 21st, 2010
11:03 am

The ignorant replies to Proud Black Man only serve to further validate his truth.

This idea that white America has little to do with the poor living conditions that often abound at minority schools is just about the most unChristian thing going in America thus far this decade.

Vertigo

May 21st, 2010
11:04 am

You simply can’t have one without the other. I’ve lived in other parts of the country – and my current GA experience has made it clear that I probably won’t retire here.

What good is it to simply say “…I’ve paid more taxes than the next guy – so therefore my kid deserves more than their kid”…because at the end of the day, with all of the grooming – the highly educated tend to leave…and who will you be stuck with? Yep, that’s right…

I come from a family that truly VALUED education. No, they weren’t elitist college grads – they were blue collar workers but understood that values and morals start at home. My mom and dad made it EXTREMELY clear that my job was to get an education. I wouldn’t have DREAMED of doing some of the things I see kids do in school now.

And many of you said it – (CRB, Samantha) and you’re right on…parents “check out” and so do their kids…no expectation at all.

Good morals, high expectation, and pride doesn’t have a color…

Erica manswell-hinds

May 21st, 2010
11:18 am

I am a mother of 4 wonderfully smart and stil being educated black children.all blacks aren;t looking for a hand out myself and family members have worked hard all our lives and paid taxes whites are not the only ones that pay taxes we as black people are not looking for something to be given all the time but how about and half even playing field.You speak about the being tired of blacks crying about not having and the whites get because they pay all the taxes.That is crap.Whites in this country like to have and under dog so they can feel superior.As long as they keep their knee in your back on the ground and then tell you get up its not hard,they look at you like why aren;t you trying to succeed.But in reality you don;t want them to succed.The majority of blacks just want an oppurtunity to do what whites have taken for granted all their lives.Get an aducation and live a decent life.So stop looking at the news and grouping all blacks with the ones that do wrong.Until you walk in my shoes don;t assume you know how they fit.

Hot Tuna

May 21st, 2010
11:19 am

Here we go arguing and throwing bricks at one another based on race and class while the kids are suffering…Not just in the classroom but in life also because we are showing them how to argue and throw bricks at one another based on race and class….

Just A Teacher

May 21st, 2010
11:24 am

According to an earlier article on this blog, the South has more Hispanic, African American, and Asian students in public schools than Caucasians. So who is the minority being referenced here? Are teachers being laid off mostly from affluent Caucasian neighborhoods? Those, I think, would be the minority students in Georgia. Until we get over this fascination with race and start to treat every person equally, there can be no equality in education. Stop worrying about whether a school has more children of a certain race and focus on keeping quality teachers in ALL of our schools!

Ron Mexico

May 21st, 2010
11:25 am

Hey proud black man, yeah its all white peoples fault. Keep believing that and you will never get anywhere in life buddy. Its always everyone elses fault isn’t it. How bout you get out there and do something instead of pulling the race card everytime something happens that you don’t like.

Aristotle

May 21st, 2010
11:26 am

The world -especially mass media -revolves around -the poor -the minority -geez maybe the problem in those communities is the parenting or lack of it? Trillions of dollars spent on minority this- minority that and where does it get us? The same place it started. A wise teacher once told me -it doesn’t matter how much money is spent -it doesn’t matter how much training is given to teachers -the one factor that makes the biggest difference and one we can’t control is how important the parents make education at home .! Witness the asian families who start with nothing can’t speak English and somehow their kids end up graduating at the top of their class. African (real Africans not the wanna be Afro-Americans) emphasize education when it is available and produce incredibly smart kids -here in the USA poor are given everything from housing to food to free meals at school more money per student then all the affluent schools and what is the result -nothing!

Ron Mexico

May 21st, 2010
11:28 am

Good point Aristotle, definately STARTS at home. If you don’t give a crap about your kids and what they do in school, no one else will.

Dee

May 21st, 2010
11:37 am

And once more, the political class and their lapdog media get what they are seeking – a class and race dispute. Can we PLEASE stop falling into their trap? The establishment and rise of the political class will be the death of our great nation if we do not put a stop to it. “We have to cut programs in your schools because those evil rich/white people won’t pay their fair share.” “Those evil poor/minority people are not paying their fair share and they are taking from your district so we have to cut programs in your schools.” Blah, blah, blah. All they are really trying to do is dumb-down all of our children so that the political class and their elite friends can prosper. And while we are all busy pointing fingers at one another and screaming “racist” they are succeeding. I encourage everyone with a child to take the time to educate your child. Instead of worrying about who is to blame for inadequate programs at your school, make the time to teach your child what he/she needs to know to fill in the gaps. Let us not become the ignorant in-fighting squabblers that they want and need us to be.

All American

May 21st, 2010
11:43 am

The best schools always have the highest involvement of parents in the education process. Teachers in minority schools are required to be educated and certified in the same manner as teachers in non minority schools. The rub here is minority schools suffer the most with seniority based layoffs. Teachers with the most seniority don’t want to teach in schools where no parental involvement is present, where no discipline as been established in the family, and where parents on welfare drive expesive cars, have expensive cell phones, and live in shacks. Why should people who work hard, invest time and energy in raising and educating their own children, support those who feel they are entitled to be given everything, without spending a dime or one minute in time, just because their skin color is black. Enough is Enough! For all those parent who have children in minority schools, if you want your child to have an education, get off your fat behinds and get involved or yes we can build more prisons.

Proud Black Man

May 21st, 2010
11:44 am

@ Ron Mexico

Mike Vick has done his time racist and before you attempt to lecture me remove the beam from your own eye bigot.

Proud Black Man

May 21st, 2010
11:46 am

@ Aristotle

“(real Africans not the wanna be Afro-Americans)”

Another tea (insert the name that cannot be spoken) reveals what he really feels. Have a nice day bigot.

Vertigo

May 21st, 2010
11:51 am

“African (real Africans not the wanna be Afro-Americans) emphasize education when it is available and produce incredibly smart kids -here in the USA poor are given everything from housing to food to free meals at school more money per student then all the affluent schools and what is the result -nothing!”

Aristotle you had me – then you lost me. Dealing in generalities never gets us anywhere. Never thought of myself as a “Negro”, “Colored”, “AfroAmerican”, or even the newly accepted “African American” – because I am descendant of slaves that were brought here and I was born here, so I’m simply an American. I didn’t emigrate here.

I come from a family that valued education, that didn’t accept excuses, and that had high expectations – and contrary to public opinion – there are many more like me.

Unfortunately, when all you see are the folks you describe above – assumptions are made.

Teacher

May 21st, 2010
11:54 am

It is regretful what is happening with all of the teacher layoffs. To say that “high povery” schools would lose more teachers beacuse of a seniority policy is not really telling the whole truth. Actually the school would have more experienced teachers re-assigned there. I am not saying that having teachers that are transferred to the school is seamless and would not effect education, but to paint a study that says the “poorer” schools would lose more teachers makes it sound unproportional, which it is not. It just means that more experienced teachers would replaced the less experienced teachers at said school.

H

May 21st, 2010
12:00 pm

Erica manswell-hinds- You start your post off well, but then end by showing your true racist anger towards whites…by doing to the white population exactly what you are asking whites NOT to do to blacks, which is generalize them into one group…here is the problem… if you take the entire black population in the US, then take the % of that population that is receiving some sort of government subsidy, it is disproportionate to the % of the white population as a whole receiving subsidies…same is true for the Hispanic population…nobody says there aren’t hard working blacks and Hispanics who don’t depend on Gov. assistance or feel the need to leach off the system. The problem is we can’t afford to pay teachers with tax payer dollars when more and more people are relying on government subsidies and less and less people are paying TAXES…it’s mainly the Democrats who push these subsidies to people (mainly to Black and Hispanic population) in order to gain their vote. Just like the current administration is doing now. Democrats depend on people being dumb and uneducated to manipulate their minds.

jbm

May 21st, 2010
12:03 pm

Has anybody stopped to wonder why. The simple answer is that as soon as the teacher can transfer out of the “Poor” district, they move on to schools where the student want to learn, where the school is not over run by thugs and baby mammy.

In any event thank goodness for more prisons, because most of these “poor” children are from one parent homes and are heading there any how. At least when their in prison they can have more children. If you so concerned about these “poor” kids take one home.

Proud Black Man

May 21st, 2010
12:07 pm

@ H

“Democrats depend on people being dumb and uneducated to manipulate their minds.”

And what do republicans depend on? I’m patiently awaiting your answer.

Remy

May 21st, 2010
12:10 pm

The problem here is that government schools aren’t run like businesses that are in crisis mode. If anything, it should be the older (and usually burned out) teachers and admins that get the boot. Seriously, offer them an early retirement package and call it a day.

Keep the younger teachers that stand a chance of reaching the kiddies – not the dinosaurs that are just coasting til retirement. Besides, the younger teachers are paid far less than their senior counterparts. Problem solved.

Proud Black Man

May 21st, 2010
12:10 pm

@ jbm

“…where the school is not over run by thugs and baby mammy.”

Another tea (insert the name that cannot be spoken) whose frontal lobes have been destroyed by that insidious practice.

Jim

May 21st, 2010
12:13 pm

With all do respect, it seems that most people commenting here ignore the substance of the study. It concludes that seniority-based layoffs are bad because it results in more turnover at schools with a predominantly-poor student population. In other words, teachers with greater seniority tend to move to schools with a lower population of poor students, so schools with a predominantly-poor student population have less senior teachers.

The study is not about race. The study makes the following point – that turnover is bad for students and, since teachers with less seniority tend to be at schools with a predominantly-poor student population, when seniority-based layoffs occur, these schools suffer a disproportionate loss of teachers familiar with that school. While I am not convinced of the study’s premise, I will take it at face value. Remedies can be implemented that do not cost any money. These remedies include a district policy that distributes teachers at schools based on some mix of seniority rather than giving teachers the choice of where they teach based on seniority or having merit-based layoffs instead of seniority-based layoffs.

You can complain about the state of education generally in GA, but that is not what this study is about. This problem has simple, costless fixes. Fix the problems one at a time. Stop whining. Stop expecting the state to magically fix things.

I have one more point to make. Aristocrat, you are dead wrong. Judge Smails, not Ty Webb, said “Well, the world needs ditch diggers too.”