Teachers: "Last In" Vs. "Highly Qualified"

image from www.nypost.comWhich is worse -- a school losing all of its youngest, most energetic teachers due to budget cuts, or a school losing all of its best-trained and committed teachers because they're older, more expensive, and less obviously flashy?  The question is relevant because you hear a lot these days about how awful "Last In, First Out" (LIFO) is for schools and teachers and kids.  Indeed it can be a devastating thing to have folks let go or bumped purely based on seniority, and several places around the country including LAUSD are trying to modify the practice of seniority-based firings. On the other hand, not all of the newer teachers who are in danger of being let go are fully trained and certified teachers who are planning on making a career out of education.  They're all considered highly qualified thanks to the TFA exemption put into NCLB, but that doesn't mean they all know what they're doing.  What message does it send to those who are considering education as a career and who have been in it for more than a few years to put them on the chopping block?  We're really making a mess of certification, that's for sure.  Not that it wasn't already a mess.  But it seems a shame to make things even murkier while we're still working on reliable new evaluation measures.  And even though certification is considered nearly worthless I think it's a shame that we could end up reducing poor kids' exposure to qualified teachers.  Image via.


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  • I would say the former is worse. Newer teachers can commit to more outside of school hours (ie they don't have kids) They can't say no like the veterans can, and it frees up school budget money for things like paper or copier maintenance. Really, a balance could be achieved if a principal subcontracted a teacher observer to keep the troops in order. Like I've said before on this blog, principals do not spend enough time observing teachers on an impromptu basis, or even from their own desk. I know there are teachers out there that are not keeping grades and LPs up to date, this can be monitored remotely. The principal could start the E3 process from his/her own home!

  • What if the surgeon has patients that are sicker than the average doctor. Maybe he's a really good surgeon to which other surgeon's send their high risk cases. And he operates on cases where it's a choice of either surgery that could be fatal or certain death. In those circumstances, the 1 in 3 ratio might not be that bad.

    The same kind of phenomenom can be extrapolated when talking about education. If a teacher starts with 30 students all of whom are at least 2 grade levels behind, that teacher is not a failure if only 25% of her students make AYP for her grade level. If, on the other hand, she starts with 80% of her students at grade level and ends up with only 25% with AYP and there's not some kind of massive catastrophe, then I'd say she's not a good teacher and should be replaced regardless of seniority (and I believe the current tenure rules would allow this as long as process is maintained).

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