Report Urges Changes in Layoff Procedure
article by California Teaching | March 29, 2012
According to a new report from the Legislative Analyst Office, California’s teacher layoff process needs to be revamped because it is too costly and often has school districts sending out more pink slips than needed. This comes just days after 20,000 teachers were laid off across the state.
Current layoff policy has teachers receiving pink slips on March 15 and a final elimination notice on May 1. However, the budget for the coming year is not released until June 1. This often forces districts to make decisions before they have accurate information available.
“Because of this misalignment, the number of teachers that are initially noticed typically far exceeds the number of teachers that are actually laid off for the following school year,” the report said.
This has teachers on edge, as they can spend months in limbo not knowing whether they are actually losing their job or not.
“Teachers across the state have rightly come to dread March 15. Though the very future of our state depends on California's teachers, (the day) many will receive a layoff notice that suggests just the opposite-and will now spend months in limbo, worrying about their futures and the future of their students,” state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said to The Contra Costa Times.
Because of this, the report recommends that the date for layoffs be changed to June 1 to Aug. 1, which would not only reduce the amount of notifications handed out, but also reduce the number of appeals which can cut down on the $700 spent on each layoff.
“The state layoff deadlines force districts to make layoff determinations too early without accurate fiscal information. Additionally, critical local information, such as the number of teachers that will leave the district or retire, is typically not available by the time school districts are required to make layoff decisions,” the report states.
Additionally, the report also recommends that layoff decisions include more than just seniority as the sole factor, to ensure that only the highest quality teachers are retained.
“A seniority-only system does not serve teachers or students at all,” State Superintendent John Deasy said to The Contra Costa Times, endorsing the report’s assessment on teacher layoffs. “Seniority should be a tie-breaker, not a deal-maker.”
Student performance, teacher quality, classroom management, teacher attendance and truancy and leadership are listed as potential factors that could be used in the decision to keep a teacher.
“Every pink slip being issued ... is an unwelcome and undeserved blow to the morale of the teacher who receives it,” Torlakson said to The Contra Costa Times. “They should also remind all of us of the urgency of finding the will and the resources to end the financial emergency facing our public schools.”
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