So since I am in the mood to offer up so many thoughts as of late about how to re-shape K-12 education (heck, who isn’t doing it these days) I thought I’d chime in on the silliness of the manner by which we choose to pink slip 194 teachers in a district with about 900 educators.
We did it by seniority. Merit played no role. (Don’t worry, this is not a post about the budget cuts… though they will certainly see some action, I am sure, going forward.)
I repeat, quality of service played absolutely no factor in the decision making process of who got to keep their job and who got to canned. It all came down to one simple question: when were you hired.
And these are the deepest staff cuts I’ve ever seen.
No one asked, how well did you work? No one asked, to what degree did you serve the needs of the students? No one took into consideration things like work ethic, degree of content knowledge, extra-curricular duties, ability to differentiate for various learning styles, and on and on and on.
Chronology slapped down worthiness.
Add it all up and it means that this past week I had a chat with an ELA teacher I greatly admire, one who is but a few years into her career – and is a real dynamo with a bright future – and told her I’d be happy to write her a smoking letter of rec if ever she wanted one.
Best I could really do.
I mean this is a teacher we should be fighting to hold on to. I know it. The principal knows it. Heck, even the folks in the district offices might know it.
But rules are rules and length of service in public education trumps quality of service.
It’s folly. Plain and simple. No one lets a better employee go so that they can keep an older employee.
BTW, this is not ageism at play. Some of the best educators I know have multiple decades under their belt. Matter of fact, the leading ELA teacher on our campus (in my opinion) is a lady right across the hall from me and she’s at year 32 in our district.
Do you know what I was doing 32 years ago? Lemme tell, ya, it wouldn’t make momma proud.
Just think about what would happen to an institution’s degree of impact if they sustained such a silly policy over the long haul. I tell ya what would happen, it would inevitably crumble over the course of time due to erosion as a result of such poor decision making. (Anyone ever hear of a small industry once based in Detroit?)
Essentially, okay, I get that we are going through a fiscal crisis that is pretty much unprecedented in our lifetimes. But at least make the most intelligent moves you can make. We are compounding the impact of the budget cuts by not better adapting our policies to meet the needs of the current times. Truly, these types of decisions are handcuffing us from being able to do the best job we can possibly do at one of the most important jobs that there is to do in our country.
Society is counting on us to do it well.
And these are the rules by which we determine who gets laid off?
If merit plays no role in determining who stays and who goes, at some point the institution of public education will crumble.
This week, a few stones in the edifice fell. And it’s a sad thing to watch.