Newark Public Schools face a serious problem: Enrollment in the struggling state-administered district is projected to plummet in the coming years, and with that revenues will decline. The state and the city both are unable to cover the shortfall, so some teachers will need to be let go.
And that creates another problem, especially since the American Federation of Teachers, through its local the Newark Teachers Union, is involved. School administrators have petitioned the state of New Jersey for a waiver to that state’s “LIFO”—Last In First Out—teacher seniority law, which requires districts to make layoffs purely based on quantity of time served. And while administrators want to keep effective teachers young and old in the classroom, Randi Weingarten’s policy keeps bad teachers in the classroom.
According to NJ Spotlight, administrators hope that a waiver from the state’s union-backed law would allow them to spare all teachers rated “highly effective” from fiscally necessary layoffs. Needless to say, Randi—she who “would protect a dead body in the classroom”—isn’t happy. She said in a statement:
It will enable [administrators] to mass-fire Newark’s teachers […] This isn’t what students need or teachers deserve, and it creates more distrust in a community already laden with it.”
But that isn’t true, as Education Week’s Stephen Sawchuk notes. In fact, allowing performance evaluations to save lower-paid, less-tenured, but highly effective teachers while high-paid, tenured, but poor teachers get terminated actually reduces the number of teachers who have to be laid off.
Randi’s wrath therefore looks like yet another union power gambit aimed at Newark’s schools chief, Cami Anderson. Similar efforts by Randi and her minions have unmade reform efforts in New York City and Washington, D.C. Will Newark be next?