Creating Generational Conflict: Principal Choice Layoffs Will Set Teacher Against Teacher, Reduce Collaboration, and Impede Student Achievement, Bad Policy Decisions are Bad for Parents, Students and Teachers.


I love teaching, I love my kids. For twenty six years I’ve been giving my all, I’m now teaching kids whose parent I taught. I can chat with parents in my limited Spanish, give them books to read, exchange recipes.
I’ve never given the union much thought, I’m an exemplary teacher.
 I’m a science cluster, run graduation, mentor new teachers, my science room is the “time out” room, I take kids who are disrupting a class, I take over a class for a few hours when a needs a breather.  My young, enthusiastic, dynamic principal tells me, “we can’t lose these new teachers, I hope Chancellor Klein changes the layoff rules.”  So I say to myself, self, you earn twice as much as a new teacher, you influence parents, you occasionally disagree with the principal. My partner tells me don’t be so nice, you’re job is at stake. I reluctantly agree.
When a few kids were destroying a classroom and a new  teacher asked me to take her kids  for a few hours I responded, “Not a good time.”  The principal asked me to take over a class for a day and have the new teacher watch, she’s threatening to quit, told the principal I was tutoring for the State test, should I stop?
The chancellor has set teacher against teacher, I hope Mulgrew stands firm, for the first time in my career I’m a real trade unionist. It feels good!
The sociology of schools is fascinating. A school is a culture, day after day, for ten months, a community of teachers interact with the single goal of encouraging learning, and teaching behaviors, i.e., taking instructions, working together, developing a work ethic, etc., that are essential for success in school and life. In successful schools the sum is greater than the product of the parts. Teachers, by grade, by subject area, by academy, by level of experience, work together, share expertise, support each other; they create formal or informal teams and support systems.
Peter Senge works, The Dance of Change: the Challenges of Sustaining Momentum in Learning Organizations, and, Schools That Learn, are bibles for schools that work together, analyze, frame, re-frame, create learning organizations
Allowing principals to excess teachers without regard to seniority would be a boon for employment lawyers! 70% of teachers do NOT teach in uniform;y tested subjects, only elementary classroom teachers (not clusters) and English and Math teachers in middle schools teach uniformly tested subjects.
The teachers in tested grades receive Teacher Data Reports, teachers are compared with other teachers teaching similar students in schools around the city, the teacher is placed in a percentile range. Principals look at the results and scratch their heads, the results don’t jive with the opinions of the principals. The issue of value-added, measuring what an individual teacher brings to his/her class is in it’s infancy. Jesse Rothstein, in “Teacher Quality in Educational Production: Tracking, Decay and Student Achievement” (May, 2009), a dense and deeply researched analysis. concludes,
“My results indicate that policies based on these Value-Added Models (VAM) will reward or punish teachers who do not deserve it and fail to reward or punish teachers who do.”
Would anyone want to teach in a Collaborative Team Teaching (CTT) class?  Volunteer to teach a class with “difficult” children? 
Teachers, working in teams, require their team members to work together. Teachers, “measured” against their colleagues, are suspicious and isolated.
Sol Stern, in a wonderful article in City Journal  skewering the NYS Testing Program, reminded me of Campbell’s Law,
“The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.”
The author of the principal’s choice layoff bill, Assemblyman Jonathan Bing, who, as reported by Gotham Schools, doesn’t seem to understand his own bill, is back pedaling as fast as  possible.
Bottom line: Chancellor Klein’s attempt to thwart senior based excessing/layoffs would create antagonistic faculties and undoubtedly negatively influence student achievement. Generational differences are of concern in schools trying to encourage collaboration, the Chancellor is pouring gasoline on the embers.


4 responses to “Creating Generational Conflict: Principal Choice Layoffs Will Set Teacher Against Teacher, Reduce Collaboration, and Impede Student Achievement, Bad Policy Decisions are Bad for Parents, Students and Teachers.

  1. Jackie Foil Retired

    I thought that was fight we had won a long time ago. Good senior teachers are the backbone of any school. We ask them to be mentors to the new teachers. Who will be available to give them support?


  2. Layoffs should remain in seniority order to prevent favoritism. Bloomklein is trying to divide the UFT – pitting new teachers against senior teachers. UFT Mike should never let this happen. Let this be a lesson to Bloomklein and their failed policies like fair student funding.


  3. I don’t recall the rationale behind the budget funding changes with respect to the teacher’s average salary (Pre-Klein days) to the actual salary. Who decided that the budget funding formula had to change? Was this legislators’ or the NYC municipality’s decision? Can someone please explain this to me. I feel that the fair student funding is nothing but a “cents”less act to destroy the seniority rule.


  4. Couldn’t agree with the prior comments more….I believe BloomKlein was behind this.


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