Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Seniority coming under scrutiny

The notion of using seniority as the basis for determining layoffs for educators is an odd one. ┬áTeachers vary dramatically in quality — some older teachers benefit from years of experience; some younger teachers benefit from the latest in educational knowledge –and those differences have huge impacts on the lives of students. Why does it make one iota of sense to simply adhere to a “last hired, first fired” mindset when it comes to our children’s education?

The media is finally waking up to the antiquated notion of seniority based layoffs. The latest outlet to highlight the practice is National Public Radio:

School districts around the country are planning massive layoffs as they struggle to bridge big budget deficits.

And as they select which teachers go and which ones stay, many can only use one factor as their guide: seniority. Many districts will have to cast out effective teachers, because local contracts and even state laws require it. …

“This is my first year in the district, and because of layoffs my last,” says Christa Krohn, one of those perky, vivacious teachers every parent wants for their child.

She’s actually been teaching math for eight years total, but her service in other districts does not count here. The RIF, or reduction in force, is all the more painful, because she and other promising teachers were specially recruited to work in an innovative science-focused school, Cleveland’s best hope to improve student performance.

Photo courtesy JamesJYu

Categories: Center for Union FactsTeachers Unions