Punch line: Teachers’ unions are more interested in protecting their members’ jobs than in the quality of education
According to the WSJ …
The steep deficits that states now face mean that teacher layoffs this year are unavoidable. Parents understandably want the best teachers spared. Yet in 14 states it is illegal for schools to consider anything other than a teacher’s length of service when making layoff decisions.
“If layoffs are based only on seniority, that doesn’t help the kids,” said U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan in a conference call with reporters. “And particularly doesn’t help the kids who need the most help.”
“Fourteen states have quality-blind layoffs rules but about 40% of all teachers work in those states, and they’re the states with the biggest budget deficits.” In addition to New York, the list includes California, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois and Wisconsin.
The unions that support these laws insist that seniority is the only “fair” way to reduce the teaching work force.
The real problem is the underlying assumption that seniority is a decent proxy for performance.
But, two recent studies on seniority-based layoffs indicate that “only about 20% of the teachers who have the least seniority are also among the least effective teachers in a district. About 80% of the time, there’s a teacher who’s worse that you could have laid off but didn’t because they had more seniority.”
As Secretary Duncan notes, layoffs based on seniority will also remove good teachers from the classrooms where they are most needed.
High-poverty students tend to matriculate at schools where the teachers have less seniority.
While the unions hate school choice for students, they insist on it for teachers.
And senior teachers tend to opt out of high-poverty districts.
The good news is that more and more people now see through the union agenda, even if too many politicians are still on the fence.
In a recent Rasmussen poll, 68% said “teachers’ unions are more interested in protecting their members’ jobs than in the quality of education.”