Bill to End Last In, First Out Narrowly Clears Senate

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

classroom, teacher, student (flickr user billerickson (cc:by-nc))

The state Senate narrowly approved a bill that would end the law requiring new teachers to be the first to go during layoffs, but its fate in the state Assembly is less certain.

The bill would do away with the so-called last-in, first-out rule requiring school districts to lay off new teachers first when cutting back staff.

Moments after the vote, Governor Andrew Cuomo released his own bill, that would end LIFO in all schools in the state and institute a new teacher rating system for the 2011, 2012 school year.

"It is time to move beyond the so-called 'last in, first out' system of relying exclusively on seniority," Cuomo said. "However, we need a legitimate evaluation system to rely upon. This will help make a statewide evaluation system ready and allow us to replace 'last in, first out.'"

Senate Education Committee Chair John Flanagan says he knows the bill will create “consternation and angst”, but he is open to it. “I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that seniority can’t be the sole criterion,” said Flanagan, who is also the bill's sponsor.

Several Republicans aren't happy with the language. Staten Island senator Andrew Lanza said he thinks the bill should be changed so that seniority protections still apply once the most ineffective teachers are removed.

"Experience does matter," he said. "The mayor is here because term limits were overturned because it was said that we needed his experience to get through these tough times. Experience matters."

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been urging Albany to approve the bill ending seniority protections because the city is facing more than 4,600 teacher layoffs. Even though the bill cleared the Republican-led Senate, it would likely face an uphill battle in the Democrat-led Assembly.

In a statement Bloomberg wrote that the bill puts the needs of children ahead of politics. He added, "Now, we urge the Governor to include this critically important reform in his budget proposal on Thursday and for the Assembly to support it."

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said before Cuomo’s bill was released that the teachers union and state education department are already working on a policy to replace LIFO as part of the requirements for receiving federal Race to the Top funding in time for the 2012-2013 school year.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said before Cuomo’s bill was released that the teachers union and state education department are already working on a policy to replace LIFO as part of the requirements for receiving federal Race to the Top funding in time for the 2012-2013
school year. 

With reporting by Karen DeWitt.


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Comments [8]


If anyone thinks this is about getting rid of ineffective teachers,they are blind.This is about getting rid of the higher paid expierienced teachers.This is all leading up to privatizing education.My wife just showed me the new evaluation guidelines.According to them,loosely structured teachers will never be effective.We all know anything the state touches turns to crap.Btw,who hired all these ineffective teachers?Shouldn't they get the axe

Mar. 02 2011 05:35 PM

I want to know when Beth Fertig is going to actually go out into some schools and do some real reporting instead of this pandering to the King Of N.Y.
Has she seen what we go through everyday ? Why isn't she reporting on the fact that students are being taught out of locker rooms, in the hallway, in the lunchroom ?
What about the fact that we have parents BUYING supplies because under Bloomberg school budgets cripple our principals ?
What about investigating the fact that he is purposely setting schools up to fail ?
I always liked this radio station because I felt like they did good reporting. If they can't get education reporting right,it makes me wonder about everything else. I guess that's what happens when you accept money from Bill Gates, you might offend him by telling the truth. Thank you.

Mar. 02 2011 06:37 AM

I'm bothered by the impression that some WNYC hosts think it's a good idea to give some bureaucrat the power to fire teachers who have given decades of their lives to the students of our public schools, Suppose someone proposed that longtime WNYC hosts be replaced by enthusiastic and cheaper recent journalism grads. It would certainly help replace lost government funds. Great for taxpayers -- depressing for people with decent values.

Mar. 02 2011 01:02 AM
Gil from Westchester

All the talk about saving money with the educational system is absolutely ridiculous when, with the other ear, we are hearing how the United States' educational system is becoming more and more inferior to those of so many other countries of the world. How can Bloomberg and the rest of the govs, etc., dwell on watering down the schools when in fact there are so many other places where money can be saved. TAX THE RICH, STUPID. I taught 30 years and agree totally with B. Hart above; the temptation of not giving experienced people security to save money would be a disaster to the kids. Incidentally, only the students know who's teaching well; no outsider can have a clue because of scores or a couple of visitations per year.

Mar. 01 2011 10:18 PM
B.Hart from New York

I was a high school teacher for thirty years plus.
I taught art, (painting, drawing, graphic design and photography). I hold a MFA from Pratt Art Institute, and I am certified in Illinois and New York State K-14 .

I am retired now and want to express that during those thirty years of teaching, mostly on the high school and junior high levels, I did not observe bad teachers, poor teaching, or unsatisfactory teaching with three exceptions.

Three different school districts, six different schools and only three poor performing teachers.

In each of these cases, the teachers in question were dealt with very appropriately by the Administration and the Union.

Each were given support to improve, appropriate warnings and their classroom time limited and observed carefully.

If those steps were not successful, each teacher was given the boot and it was supported by the local union when the Administration fulfilled their observations correctly and concerns were not trivial.

New teachers often exhibit enthusiasm, and knowledge of their subject area but, lack experience.

Experience is extremely important, but not the only factor. Only time produces experience.

In some cases that time can lead to "burnout", but not always, and this is my point.

Which teachers should be removed from their teaching role should not be based on when they were hired or their years of experience. It should in my opinion, be based on the job being done in the classroom and the gain the students are receiving from that teacher.

It can not be a situation without the Union involvement, and it can not be executed by Administration in a quick, cut & dry manner to reduce salary expenditures or as a result of parent pressure.

It must be fair, documented and an opportunity to improve in job responsibilities provided.

If that has been done, then that teacher must be removed from their job.

The Union has to be the party to review that process and observe if all steps have been satisfied and the if the teacher has still not met the expectations and job requirements of their teaching job.

Then whether new or experienced, any teacher should be removed from their job.

The Union's job must be to support the teacher, make certain all accusations apply (or not) and then support the Administration in removing the teacher if need be.

Mar. 01 2011 07:56 PM
Jack from Bronx

If you went to have surgery and you had to choose between an experienced an inexperienced surgeon, who would you choose? Experienced teachers mentor those who are just beginning. They have done so for years. Teaching is a craft that develops over time. Yes, there are some terrible experienced teachers and yes, there are brilliant new teachers These are truly exceptions to the norm. If this bill passes, the mayor can hire two new inexperienced teachers for the cost of one senior experienced teacher. You think scores are not good enough now, just wait to see the results of the experienced teachers being let go because of their high salaries.

Mar. 01 2011 07:09 PM
Joe from Kew Gardens

I've only met two really terrible teachers in my 12 years on the job. How they are passing the bi-annual evaluations is a mystery to me. Interview the Principals - if the students are not achieving why are their teachers rated satisfactory? Why are many schools rated well developed or proficient on their quality reviews yet their students are failing?

Mar. 01 2011 06:00 PM

Why aren't "teachers rated unsatisfactory" fired to begin with? I can't imagine there are too many of them - I'm not a teacher but even where I work you have to be pretty bad to get an "unsatisfactory" review.

Why is it so difficult to get rid of someone who is not doing the job? This applies in the for-profit sector as well. I'm all for employee protection, but there is such a thing as taking it too far.

Mar. 01 2011 01:14 PM

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