Mass Layoffs Likely in L.A.

By Stephen Sawchuk — January 14, 2009 1 min read

This story from the Los Angeles Times portends really tough times for that district’s teaching force. The school board approved a measure to give 2,300 teachers the pink slip if the fiscal situation doesn’t improve. No wonder the state is pushing so hard for operating relief in the stimulus package currently being fleshed out on Capitol Hill.

The story also indicates that the district will probably have to give up its love of smaller class sizes, suggesting that some may rise to nearly 30 students.

The layoffs, the story indicates, would be targeted at teachers with fewer than two years of experience under the belt, and most contracts do work this way, with less-senior teachers losing their jobs before veterans. But here at Teacher Beat, we have to pose the question: Is that really the fairest system? Would it make more sense to cut ineffective teachers of all seniority levels rather than focusing on novices? And for that matter, would it allow the district to keep more teachers overall (new teachers earn the lowest salaries)?

Of course, you’d need a good metric to figure out which teachers were the most effective, and that would be a battle in and of itself. But it’s more food for thought for the effectiveness and human-capital-reforms-in-education debate.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.