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Achievement, Not Seniority

Teacher Layoffs: Children Deserve The Best Teachers

Hartford Courant Editorial

June 01, 2011

Joel Klein served for eight years as chancellor of New York City's school system. He writes in this month's Atlantic magazine that public schools "won't get to where we need to go" unless they are "rebuilt on a platform of accountability," attract more top-flight recruits to teaching and use technology differently to improve instruction.

Step one is to make teachers accountable for student learning. A simple way is for Connecticut's General Assembly to pass a law that allows school boards to use performance, instead of seniority, in making layoff decisions. Seniority is frequently the sole factor in layoff decisions in Connecticut towns. The result is a "last in, first out" policy that is a disservice to children.

Often, experienced teachers are the best teachers in a school. But not always. Too many times, a teacher-of-the-year gets a pink slip. This year it's a teacher in Derby. "Last in, first out" is a counterproductive policy kept in place by the political power of teachers' unions. Mr. Klein wrote that even Albert Shanker, iconic head of the American Federation of Teachers two decades ago, believed teachers had to be accountable for student outcomes.

ConnCAN, an education reform group, is submitting an eleventh-hour legislative amendment to end "last in, first out." Passing it would open the door to Mr. Klein's second step, recruiting more top teaching candidates. Passing it would signal that the state thinks schools should be run for the children.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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