All Los Angeles schools should have good teachers

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

It's nice to know that tens of millions of extra dollars will go to 37 low-income schools after the Los Angeles Unified School District settled a class-action suit on behalf of students. But the lawsuit, undertaken by the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups, was never about money; it was about policies that require teachers with the least seniority to be laid off first when there are staff reductions. So although the added funding will help attract and retain teachers for a few years, the lawsuit fell short of its original aim of doing away with the "last-in-first-out" policy.

The issue of who gets laid off at low-income schools goes to the heart of whether the students with the greatest needs, because of poverty and language barriers, will be taught by excellent teachers.

The schools involved in the lawsuit were staffed by a disproportionate number of new teachers; when the state's fiscal crisis hit, that meant those schools lost more teachers. Seniority rules allow more experienced teachers to transfer to other schools more easily when there are openings, and allow less-experienced teachers to be replaced when there are layoffs.

Read more »