Here’s a quick roundup expanding on some recent tweets of voiceofsandiego.org education reporter Emily Alpert:

• Principals in the L.A. Unified School District should be allowed to hire any teacher of their choice, says a report by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ). Displaced tenured teachers who aren’t rehired elsewhere should be permanently dismissed, it says, and principals should have be allowed to hire any qualified applicant, including teachers from outside the school system.

Firing more teachers for poor performance is a “a sign of better quality control,” researchers from NCTQ said.

The teachers union criticized some of the recommendations as being symbolic of an “ineffective corporate-style, market-driven approach to education.”

The recommendations would cut guaranteed jobs for “must-place teachers,” which are those fired for poor performance, conflict with an administrator, declining enrollment, or budget cuts. “Three-quarters of principals surveyed also said that teachers on the must-place list are rarely if ever a good fit for their school,” the report says.

• “Seniority based layoffs hurt good teachers,” according to another report, this one from Education Trust-West.

“The harm of a single layoff can be multiplied, as a cascading process of ‘bumping’ begins. The system is quite insane,” a one of the report’s authors told the New York Times in March. Bumping is when a junior school employee’s job is given to someone who has seniority. Once a teacher receives tenure, they are able to bump junior teachers from their classrooms.

Last year at a discussion of “Waiting for Superman,” a film about teaching and education in the United States, Bill Freeman told the audience teacher tenure, a toxic topic, doesn’t exist. To those who use the term, however, teacher tenure is when “permanent teachers get warnings and time to improve before being fired, can take their case to a panel and appeal it higher if they disagree with a ruling.”

• This year schools sent out thousands of layoff notices to employees but the layoffs weren’t based on the effectiveness of school employees or the needs of school communities — the primary factor was lack of seniority, which can leave poor schools, where junior teachers tend to work, understaffed.

A proposed solution is California State Bill 1285, Protect Our Schools from Devastating Layoffs. The bill gives school districts tools to manage budget-based layoffs, to help ensure struggling schools don’t take the brunt of cuts that leave children without teachers. It does not change teachers’ right to collective bargaining.

Morgan Stinson is a junior at High Tech High and an intern at voiceofsandiego.org. She can be reached at vosdinterns@gmail.com

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