Calif. Schools Urged to Change Layoff Policy to Improve Teaching

Monday, 26 Mar 2012 02:57 PM

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California school officials should change their staff downsizing policy to improve teaching and boost morale, according to the state legislative analyst’s office.

Procedures now base layoffs on seniority, which means that the most recent teaching recruits are more likely to be let go when cuts have to be made. Although those rules are objective and easily implemented, they can lead to lower overall teacher quality, the Los Angeles Times quotes the legislative analyst’s report as saying. School districts should take several factors into account in reducing staffs, the report advised.

The report suggests considering “factors that result in the least harm to students, the overall teaching workforce and the school community.” Such points might include student performance, teacher quality, and contributions to the community, according to the Times.

The document noted that the number of full-time teachers in California has dropped by 32,000, or 11 percent, since 2007-08. It pointed to other states that give discretion to individual districts in determining who is let go.

Some officials, including Los Angeles Unified Superintendent John Deasy, have advocated such changes in the past, the Times reported.

The report also recommended that school districts revise their timelines for handling layoffs. The law now requires sending out initial notices by March 15, but that is before more detailed budget information is available. As a result, some teachers are laid off and then rehired.

Moving the initial deadline for layoff notices to June 1 would reduce the number sent, and teacher and school morale would improve, the report noted.


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