The Case Against Quality-Blind Layoffs
February 24, 2011
As school districts across the country grapple with massive budget cuts, thousands of great teachers could lose their jobs despite a track record of success in the classroom.
Fully 40 percent of the nation’s teachers (1.25 million) work in one of 14 states—Alaska, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, West Virginia and Wisconsin—where it’s currently illegal for schools to consider job performance in making layoff decisions. Ten of these states are facing budget deficits greater than 10 percent, meaning that layoffs are a real possibility.
Under quality-blind policies—sometimes called “last-in, first-out”—schools are mandated to lay off the least senior teachers first. This hurts students by depriving them of excellent teachers who are forced to leave simply because they have not taught as long as others.
There's a better way. When TNTP surveyed 9,000 teachers for its policy brief, A Smarter Teacher Layoff System, teachers overwhelmingly rejected quality-blind layoff rules, and asked that job performance be taken into account along with time served.