Russo: The willy-nilly nature of teacher layoffs
This piece was written by Alexander Russo, a former Democratic Senate aide who writes the widely read "This Week In Education" blog.
By Alexander Russo
It's not just newbies and burnouts who are getting laid off -- even with the "edujobs" money on its way.
One of those who doesn't fit the conventional view of who is getting laid off is Sunny Neater-DuBow, a highly certified and tenured Chicago art teacher who was recently laid off from her job at Little Village High School, along with many others.
She's got seven years on the job, National Board Certification, all the bells and whistles. She is, according to the research, at the prime of her teaching career.
But she and roughly half of the faculty who worked at one of the small schools created in response to a hunger strike by Latino mothers protesting the lack of quality education opportunities in the area have been laid off. Her layoff is mentioned in this Substance article, and is the subject of this post from Mike Klonsky.
How's this happening? Well, Arne Duncan's successor as Chicago public schools chief, Ron Huberman, apparently under some sort of emergency spending loophole, is allowing principals to cut tenured positions and then hire newer, less expensive teachers to do much the same job.
In Neater-DuBow's case, she saw that her school had posted a call for a new visual-arts teacher earlier this summer -- her old job -- but added that applicants would also need to have a "dance endorsement." Dance has never been offered at the school in the past, though Neater-Dubow could theoretically teach one or two dance classes out of field.
[There's also the possibility that the dismissals are payback for a group of teachers who came together to stand up to new principal Patty Gonzalez over the school's performance pay program.]
Not surprisingly, the union is getting involved on behalf of these teachers and others, and the teacher and others are doing their best to get the word out about what's really happening.
There are, of course, lots of people losing their jobs -- including more than a few teachers. The Little Village schools haven't lived up to their promise and the new principal should be allowed to make changes to make things better. No one's advocating for going back to the old centralized, seniority based system here.
What makes this situation notable is how it illustrates the ad hoc, willy-nilly nature of the layoff process, the questionable uses to which principals and administrators are putting the current budget crisis, and the sad state of affairs in Chicago schools, which not too long ago were being heralded as making good progress.
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| August 19, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: Guest Bloggers, Teachers | Tags: alexander russo, chicago schools, little village high school, teachers and layoffs
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