Seniority-Based Layoffs: Costing us Great Teachers
Elizabeth Doctor is a former special education teacher and currently serves as a Regional Outreach Manager for StudentsFirst in California.
As StudentsFirst traveled the Golden State over the course of our California Listening Tour, we were met with thousands of stories of people who deeply care about doing what is best for kids. Dedicated parents fighting to get their children into a great public school, teachers working double overtime to catch their students up to grade level, and community members up in arms over the budget crisis facing public education. Over and over again, one systemic issue in need of reform kept coming up: seniority-based layoffs.
As I speak with strong, motivated teachers all over the state, the stories of layoffs are heartbreaking. Bhavini was Teacher of the Year. Cesar runs a Saturday school for special needs and ESL students. Lori had rave reviews with students and parents, but had to move to Abu Dhabi to find a teaching position. Not a bit of their performance or commitment to their students is taken into account because state law mandates that teachers are laid off in reverse seniority. Pink slips all around.
One experience that we came across was that of Tyler Hester. Mr. Hester's story represents the experiences of thousands of teachers across the state who received pink slips this year -- all based on a policy that fails to show great teachers that they are valued.
Tyler tells his story best. Please watch and share the video below. California's seniority-based layoff policy is not just unwise, it's unfair.
With California's seniority-based system in place, children stand to lose some of the best teachers in the state unless we work quickly to reform this harmful and outdated system.