Teacher Seniority and (Our) Tenure Are Not the Same Things

But the terms are used somewhat interchangeably in K-12 parlance (ever hear of a 4th grade teacher invoking “Academic Freedom” to explain why s/he is teaching Sex Ed?), and the former is clearly under attack across the country. Or at least on the coasts.

Exhibit #1:

Up to 45 Los Angeles Unified School District campuses will be shielded from teacher layoffs altogether, Judge William F. Highberger ordered Friday, and layoffs in the district’s other 750 schools must be spread more equitably. That could lead some experienced teachers to lose their jobs.

The decision comes amid deep education cuts and a debate over teacher tenure rules, which are being challenged across the country. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie recently called for the end of tenure, as have leaders in Florida, Idaho, Wyoming and elsewhere.

Exhibit #2:

In a bluntly worded speech delivered at a politically influential black church, Mr. Bloomberg said current state law could force him to fire every teacher hired by the city over the last five years, 15,000 in all.

The mayor said that if, as widely expected, the governor’s office proposes deep cuts to the city’s education spending this week, it must give the city flexibility in determining which teachers to lay off. Right now, it must fire new teachers first.

Something to watch.

2 thoughts on “Teacher Seniority and (Our) Tenure Are Not the Same Things

  1. Sadly, yes, both tenure and seniority are under attack today. Seniority rights have been a long favored labor practice for good reason. In principle, senior workers are suppose to be “better” than less experienced workers. Thus, it is appropriate for both management and labor to retain senior workers over more recent hires. A bad labor practice would be to lay off senior workers first because it would constitute a huge cut in salary cost, … which management much desires. Such a scheme puts all of us at risk, as all of us should one day reach the higher salary ranks. If there is a lesson to be learned from such bad practices as “hiring freezes,” it’s that organizations work best when there is a harmonic spread of ages, experience, and salary levels. When a senior retires, a young hire should replace her. It’s not exactly rocket science, is it?

  2. Extremely well stated MathArt, however,I think after the departmental recommendations of the 3-5 top canedidates the final judgement call should be in the hands of the department by vote rather than that of the local or district administrators. After all the individual will be working in the department as a “team member” and the collective opinion/voice of the department should carry more weight that just the department chair and/or the local administration.
    This would save a lot of grief and heartbreak during the tenure process.
    The question I would really lke to explore is whether or not the individual is truly passionate about teaching and communicating,motivating and empowering students than just coming in with “ivory tower” ideas or that they are just looking for a job, ANY JOB!.
    I was also wondering if the “vetting process” is done by a committee or on the singular judgemement of an individual.Maybe it is one of those “non-transparent”features a.k.a “Dont ask dont tell” deals. Does anyone know?

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