TNTP looks at NYC's excess of excessed teachers

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If The New Teacher Project comes out with a new study, you are pretty much guaranteed that it will be pragmatic and meaty. Its latest report, Mutual Benefits, chronicles what's happened in New York City since the 2005 teacher contract negotiation threw out rigid rules about transfers and hiring, giving principals and teachers a lot more say in which teachers go to which schools. Pragmatic and meaty this study is, but also strategic. It would seem that TNTP is clearly worried that someone is pushing for a return to the status quo, although we never learn who that someone is--the district or the union.

While the new system appears to be humming along quite nicely from almost everyone's perspective, the contract reforms never quite figured out how to deal with 'excessed teachers,' who prior to the new contract would have been placed to fill any vacancy by the central office without regard to principals' or teachers' views of the matter. TNTP tracked 2,742 teachers who were excessed in summer 2006, reporting that all but 235 (9 percent) landed a new job within six months. Lest we think the 235 remaining teachers are victims of an unfair system, TNTP shows otherwise. In large part, the 235 stragglers remain without jobs because they are actually less motivated about finding one. They are also a generally substandard bunch, with a higher rate of unsatisfactory ratings on their personnel records than their more successful peers.

For those content to do very little in life, why give up the life of an excessed teacher? Is there anywhere else on the planet where you could get laid off but still get paid indefinitely? The New York contract allows these teachers to stay on for an unlimited period with full pay and benefits. The city spent $31 million in about 18 months to have these teachers show up to their old schools, where they serve as short or long term subs. By June 2008 it will have spent $81 million on all excessed teachers...which explains why the district may feel some pressure to discard these reforms.

TNTP puts forward a solution that would strike anyone as more than generous, unless you are part of a local teachers union. A tenured teacher would have one year to find a job and then s/he stops receiving pay or benefits. An untenured teacher would have three months. It's the kind of deal that in any other sector, the union would have put on the table, only to have management scoff at the mere notion.