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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