Spring has (officially) sprung

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While spring most often brings blooms and sunshine to mind, for many school districts there is nothing rosy about the season.  Not only is it a time filled with the stress of state testing, but school districts also find themselves in the thorny situation of trying to balance the next year's budget on figures not yet provided by states.  In order to be fiscally responsible and plan for the worst, many districts resort to layoffs.  

While some teachers who initially receive pink slips do eventually get called back, this process is disruptive at best, destructive at worst.  This is especially true in states where these layoffs occur through "Last In, First Out" (LIFO) in which staff are laid off on the basis of seniority.  These policies disproportionately affect schools with high proportions of low-income students.

Last year, the ACLU won a significant victory in Los Angeles when the Los Angeles County Superior court ruled as much.  While this did nothing to change the state's LIFO mandate, it did protect teachers at select low-income schools from being laid off.  Recently, the San Francisco Unified superintendent and school board proactively  decided to protect 14 of their highest poverty schools from such disruptive layoffs and bypassed California state mandates.

While other districts would be wise to think proactively in a similar fashion, simply working around state policy will only get you so far.  The districts will, in the end, have to make the same number of layoffs with the same LIFO policy... they will just come from schools with better-off students.  Regardless of the poverty level of a school, LIFO undermines the positive benefits made by effective teachers.  Until states make a change, districts will be left to do their best with their hands tied. It's time for states to spring into action.


Katie Moyer