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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Teacher layoffs: Last hired, first fired?



Marion County schools aren't unlike many others in Florida or the nation. When it comes to cutting staff in order to save money, the teachers with the least experience in the district are the first ones to get pink slips.

Late last week, Marion's 522 first- and second-year teachers learned they wouldn't get new contracts, the Ocala Star-Banner reported.

That could be exactly the wrong solution, experts tell Education Week.

"We're moving teachers around and fragmenting the experience for the kids, and class sizes go up even more because we're protecting seniority," University of Washington education professor Marguerite Roza told the paper. "We're not making a decision that's in the best interest of kids."

Florida lawmakers are set to consider a bill that would do away with tenure, making it easier to keep the best teachers regardless of their length of service.

But how will a principal decide who is best? Some suggest that seniority might actually be easier than rating teachers by merit, itself a controversial subject.

With mega-layoffs in the works across the country, the American Federation of Teachers has advocated voluntary buyouts and hiring freezes as an alternative.

Sooner or later, perhaps, someone will come up with a solution that's reasonable to teachers and employers alike.


[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:15am]


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