A decision by the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education to approve a court settlement to cap the number of dismissals at schools in the district in order to protect students from the potential damage of large teacher layoffs at low-performing schools, may mark a turnaround for all teachers and students in the district.
The settlement is in response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and the Public Counsel Law Center, which accused the LAUSD of disproportionately laying off teachers at schools in low-income areas. The suit accuses the district of denying students equal access to public education.
While a judge must still approve the pact, the settlement is a crack in LAUSD’s long-standing agreement with the teachers’ union that layoffs would follow the traditional pattern of last-hired, first-fired policy that has not always benefited students in the nation’s second largest school district.
During the last round of layoff talks, many of the school district’s lowest-performing schools—some in the process of school reform and achieving academic gains—were thrown into upheaval when it became apparent they would be losing a large numbers of teachers due to the last-hired, first-fired policy.
While we fully understand that policies such as these were originally established to prevent the arbitrary firing of teachers, including many excellent teachers, over the years the policy’s intent has been hijacked, twisted and misapplied so as to protect all teachers, deserving or not.
We don’t know if the settlement will cause a wider breach in the policy that allows teachers with seniority to be favored over less experienced teachers during layoffs, but we have hope that it is a step toward reforming the outdated policy.
The fact is that there are many senior teachers who refuse to teach at certain low-performing schools robbing students at those schools, who often have the greatest need and highest untapped potential, of their greater experience.
Poor children should be shielded from the chaos of losing teachers who want to teach at their schools. Perhaps this settlement will start to do just that.
The community and the entire student population of the LAUSD owe the ACLU and Public Counsel a big Thank You.Posted - Copyright © 2022 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.