As I work with a group of quality teachers, I can't help but thinking about RIFing (reduction in force) and teacher tenure. Earlier this week I woke up to NPR's Morning Edition and this article: In Teaching, Pink Slips Are A Way Of Life. The article featured one young teacher from the Los Angeles Unified School District who received a RIF notice this year. Due to budget cuts, the district (like many others in our country) is cutting staff. And like many districts, the LAUSD operates on a last hired, first out type of policy when it comes to staff cut-backs. So----despite being qualified, successful, and having made a difference in the lives of students (the reporter interviewed one of the young woman's students who seemed to be deeply impacted by this teacher) this woman will be let go simply because she was hired last in that particular department. Though it was 5:30 AM when I heard this article---and though I wanted nothing more than an extra hour of sleep and for someone to bring me a cup of coffee---so many thoughts crossed my mind:
- That could be me. I am the last hired in my current district--and because I'm so young, I will probably keep that status for quite some time.
- Will this woman stay in the teaching field? Or, like many others, will she grow weary of receiving lay-off notices year after year and pursue a more stable job, leaving teaching behind?
- How many young, excellent, and driven teachers are we losing in education due to this "last in, first out" policy?
- Is this "last in, first out" mantra what's best for students? Are we losing more quality teachers and sparing those who are less than quality simply because they have taught longer?