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Groundbreaking Teachers’ Agreement For Los Angeles

Groundbreaking Teachers’ Agreement For Los Angeles

No more “last hired, first fired” policy for the Los Angeles Unified School District as the only way to handle layoffs. The Los Angeles School Board and the American Civil LIberties Union (ACLU) reached an agreement on October 5 that would limit teacher layoffs based strictly on seniority, which is the traditional way that dismissals have been handled in public schools.

The settlement does not entirely scrap seniority as a factor in layoffs. Rather, layoffs based on seniority would be distributed evenly among district schools. No school would lose a disproportionate number of teachers.

This is important because there tend to be more inexperienced teachers in schools in low-income neighborhoods, which means that those schools are at a disadvantage during every budget crisis.

Lawsuit Filed In February

The agreement comes in response to a lawsuit filed in February by several groups, accusing the state and Los Angeles Unified School District of denying students equal access to a public education. Specifically, the suit alleged that the district had dismissed up to two-thirds of teachers at three of the city’s worst-performing middle schools: Samuel Gompers, Edwin Markham and John H. Liechty.

First Of Its Kind Agreement

ACLU staff attorney David Sapp stated that the agreement was groundbreaking. “It’s the first of its kind in California, and maybe nationally,” he said. “This is the right thing for kids because it makes sure that you don’t have some kids bearing the brunt of the layoffs at schools that are already struggling.”

In addition to the layoff agreement, the settlement also creates an incentive program that would encourage teachers and administrators to work at needy schools, which have struggled to recruit and retain staff.

Will The United Teachers Of Los Angeles Accept?

The proposed settlement requires approval by a judge, and the teachers’ union has yet to weigh in on the decision. However, if this agreement stands, it will mark a huge step forward for the children of Los Angeles, and possibly of the nation. Clearly, the notion that a teacher who has been instructing in the same school for twenty years is de facto a better instructor than one who has only been there for three years makes no sense.

This agreement is in tune with the movement making its way through our nations’ schools: that the tenure system for teachers needs to change. Evaluation must be based on multiple measures, and not simply on length of service to one school.

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44 comments

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3:39PM PDT on Oct 11, 2010

The unions will not take this laying down. For that matter neither will the Dem party once the NEA starts screaming.

Seniority can be a factor but too many incompetents are out there "teaching" Anything that might allow school districts some flexibility in firings should be applauded. Wish it didn't have to wait for a slowdown in budget increases though to prompt it.

10:19AM PDT on Oct 11, 2010

Student evaluations at the conclusion of each semester, anonymously submitted and read only outside of the school, should become standard in all public and private and charter schools, just as it is done on many college campuses. Allow the students to evaluate.

8:47AM PDT on Oct 11, 2010

it's also important to notice that, in fact, many elder teachers are not thinking the same way younger colleagues would do. that doesn't mean the are not progressive or anything like that, but we need a really balanced equilibrium between older and younger teachers, so that new, different and innovative ideas of thinking and teaching are introduced to schools and children. on the other hand, younger teachers still can learn from the elder staff.

10:27PM PDT on Oct 10, 2010

This was an important landmark decision that was made. However one must realize that lausd is a bureaucracy, and there are also another inadequacies in such an institution. If a school principal wants to keep teachers that are her favorites, this can work against good teachers as well. We must come up with a fair and just way of balancing great educators in systems that are tainted and politics prevails over educating children.
There is more to this then meets the eye. I have not seen "Waiting for Superman" yet, however I am told that it really sheds light on the American School Systems.

9:04PM PDT on Oct 10, 2010

We owe whatever advances we make in society, science, defense, exploration, whatever to our teachers.

It would be nice if they received fair recompense for an often thankless job.

1:32PM PDT on Oct 10, 2010

thanks for the information

5:50PM PDT on Oct 9, 2010

I am a teacher currently. I just started last year. While the veterans have 'paid their dues', the newer teachers can still contribute. The issue, in my opinion, is that there are too many veterans who know the 'system', and new people are left to fend for themselves [unless they know the right people].
In my school system, many veterans end up in the bureaucracy, making life miserable for kids and adults alike.

5:34PM PDT on Oct 9, 2010

Very interesting article. Thanks for posting!

4:57PM PDT on Oct 9, 2010

Seniority should be weighed along with performance, and some other factors.

4:54PM PDT on Oct 9, 2010

go ACLU

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