Teaching Profession Letter to the Editor

Teacher Layoffs: A Chance to Improve Instruction?

March 03, 2009 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

Isn’t it time to face reality and use teacher layoffs as a chance to improve the overall quality of the instruction students receive (“Layoff Policies Could Diminish Teacher Reform,” Feb. 25, 2009)? Seniority-based policies are designed to allow teachers to coast after they receive tenure (most don’t coast, but too many do). An education system committed to the goal of doing the best job possible to educate all children to their full potential would not use seniority alone to decide who gets laid off.

Instead, it would cut the least-effective teachers so that the average competence of the remaining faculty would be much higher. Yet when I’ve complained about the way kids are harmed by seniority policies, multiple superintendents have told me, “You don’t understand—education is run to benefit the adults who work here, not the kids.” At least they were honest.

The insider power groups’ grip on decisionmaking must be broken. Whenever legislators look to improve education policy, they ask for input from the “experts” on what to do. But any option that might actually work is suppressed, because it might cause some shift in power. The result is a system that protects everyone in the process, except the kids.

In the end, the selfish actions of these adults will hurt us all. Administrators and unions should think about the long-term impact of their immediate-term intransigence.

Paul Richardson

Colorado Springs, Co.

A version of this article appeared in the March 04, 2009 edition of Education Week as Teacher Layoffs: A Chance To Improve Instruction?


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Mathematics Webinar
Addressing Unfinished Learning in Math: Providing Tutoring at Scale
Most states as well as the federal government have landed on tutoring as a key strategy to address unfinished learning from the pandemic. Take math, for example. Studies have found that students lost more ground
Content provided by Yup Math Tutoring
Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession What New Teachers Need
Ideas from the real world on making teachers' first years less overwhelming and more fulfilling.
5 min read
Illustration of a classroom diorama sitting on a student desk.
Illustration by Laura Baker/Education Week (Images: iStock/Getty)
Teaching Profession Opinion This Year Almost Drove Me Out of Teaching. The Right Leader Made Me Stay
After seven years teaching and one class away from becoming an education specialist, I have seen the highs and lows of education leadership.
Samantha Richardson
4 min read
Illustration of woman sitting on a mountain top looking into the distant landscape.
Teaching Profession Maryland Teacher Wins $1 Million Global Prize
Keishia Thorpe received the prize for her work teaching immigrant and refugee students and helping them attend college.
2 min read
This photo provided by the Varkey Foundation shows Keishia Thorpe. The Maryland high school English teacher, who has worked to open up college education for her students, has won the $1 million Global Teacher Prize. The Varkey Foundation announced Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021, that Thorpe, who teaches at International High School at Langley Park in Prince George’s County in Maryland, was selected from more than 8,000 nominations and applications from 121 countries around the world.
Keishia Thorpe, who has worked to open up college education for her students, has won the $1 million Global Teacher Prize.
Varkey Foundation via AP
Teaching Profession Opinion Teachers Need Therapy. Their Schools Should Pay for It
You can’t have student mental well-being without investing in the adults around them, argues clinical psychologist Megan McCormick.
Megan McCormick
5 min read
Illustration of nurturing.
Laura Baker/Education Week and Ponomariova_Maria/iStock/Getty, DigitalVision Vectors