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