Unintended Consequences

The Case for Reforming the Staffing Rules in Urban Teachers Union Contracts

Two contractual staffing rules put the straightjacket on urban schools’ hiring abilities.

Two staffing rules mandated by urban teachers union contracts are having a profound influence on not only new teacher hiring but also the ability of urban schools to staff their classrooms effectively. “Voluntary transfer” and “excessed teacher” rules often require schools to hire incumbent teachers—either ones with seniority rights who want to move between schools or ones who have been cut from their positions due to declines in budget or student enrollment—without any regard for whether these teachers are the right matches for the jobs.

Unintended Consequences examines five major urban school districts across the country to quantify the degree to which these collectively-bargained rules hamper the ability of schools to make smart hiring decisions.

Key findings:

  • Urban schools are forced to hire large numbers of teachers they do not want.
  • Poor performers are shifted from school to school instead of being transitioned out.
  • New teacher applicants, including the best, are lost to late hiring.
  • Novice teachers are treated as expendable.

The report also proposes a set of specific reforms for policymakers to improve the quality of education in city classrooms by enabling the best match of teacher to school.

Imali Ariyarathne, seventh-grade teacher at Langston Hughes Academy, stands in front of her students while introducing them to the captivating world of science

Imali Ariyarathne, seventh-grade teacher at Langston Hughes Academy, introduces her students to the captivating world of science.

About TNTP

TNTP is the nation’s leading research, policy, and consulting organization dedicated to transforming America’s public education system, so that every generation thrives.

Today, we work side-by-side with educators, system leaders, and communities across 39 states and over 6,000 districts nationwide to reach ambitious goals for student success.

Yet the possibilities we imagine push far beyond the walls of school and the education field alone. We are catalyzing a movement across sectors to create multiple pathways for young people to achieve academic, economic, and social mobility.

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