Skip to content

Last In – First Out…(LIFO)

May 26, 2011

Ysabel Watts is one of 25 regular teachers who were warned that they could be laid off from Fay Elementary.

Emily Alpert has been doing some reporting over at the Voice of San Diego about LIFO.  I have mixed feelings about the topic.  I do see the merits of having experienced teachers on staff, those merits are myriad, I know because experienced teachers have helped my on many occasions.  I also see how you can develop bonds with your school and the students in that school in a very short time and you can be let go because you don’t have seniority.

The solution to all of this madness which happens each year is to SOLVE the education funding crisis that we perpetually have.  It is a travesty when you realize that California is one of the richest states in this country but the lowest in per pupil funding for education, currently ranked 47th.  Or, that per capita spending on prisons is 53% of public spending here while education makes up for only 6%.  Or, that California has the highest ratio in the country of pupils to teacher in their classrooms.

Class sizes will balloon all over the city if San Diego Unified goes ahead with plans to slash one out of every six teachers. But the blizzard of pink slips is hitting some of its poorest schools the hardest because the newest teachers are the first to lose their jobs — a phenomenon dubbed “last-in-first-out.”

That has happened over and over in San Diego. Yet just two hours to the north in Los Angeles, the practice is being curbed.

Civil rights groups sued Los Angeles Unified and came to an unusual settlement: Schools with high turnover and low but growing scores will be spared when it hands out pink slips. That means that more senior teachers at less troubled schools will go onto the chopping block instead, upsetting the seniority-based system that drives layoffs at most public schools.

If LIFO is under revision in other districts it will most likely come to San Diego Unified Schools in the future.  Here is one comment that is pro-LIFO and one anti-LIFO below.  One is very well thought out, the other is the same basic drivel about unions we hear all the time.

Pro-LIFO:

‘Why Isn’t That Happening Here?’
Because the unions have too much power over the education system. This is yet another example of how nothing can be accomplished because they hold all the trump cards except layoffs

Anti-LIFO:

Shouldn’t students in these schools also be allowed the benefits of seasoned, experienced teachers?

The way so called senior teachers are described makes them sound like 65 year old senior citizens with one foot in the grave. They’re not. You’re talking about 45 and 50 year old teachers with experience, most with masters degrees or more than one credential, who have extensive professional development training. Teachers who are in it for the long haul are just as committed and enthusiastic as that novice teacher who hasn’t quite developed their full potential. You can’t even start the process of national board certification unless you have been a teacher for at least three years.

This is an demeaning process that seeks to divide teachers; pit them against each other, voting each other off the island.

The bottom line is if you want your children to have a good education, we need all of our teachers. Teachers need time to network and collaborate. We need our seasoned teachers and we need our new teachers and we need everyone in between. We need the math and science teachers. We also need the nurses and the librarians. We need everybody.

We need our support staff so that teachers can concentrate on doing their job, not the custodian’s, nurse’s or secretary’s job.

Solve the money problem. Solve the funding based on property taxes, the redevelopment corporations that are siphoning the money away, separate out education funding from the general budget. Find a way to fund schools so they can rely on stable funding that will address cost of living increases and increases in enrollment, providing for all contingencies such as a growth in English Language learners or students with special needs.

Most of all decide exactly how much you value the future. Do you want well educated citizens that will contribute tax revenue based on highly skilled jobs and innovative, creative businesses? Or do you want a just barely literate to get by population moving from one minimum wage, low skilled job to the next, generating very little tax revenue? Because the latter is where we’re heading. 60 in a class with a master teacher and a few aides? Or all classes online with no teacher whatsoever? Corporate for profit schools?

Is it the purpose of public schools to supply a never ending supply of wage slaves to serve the corporate masters? Or should we be producing critically thinking, literate, workers with the flexibility and drive to work independently, finding a way or making a way to get the job done?

Make a decision and then fund it accordingly.

You won’t get a Neiman Marcus education on a WalMart budget.

Students are not a product. Teachers don’t work on an assembly line.

Stop thinking one year down the line. Start thinking 20 years from now. 50. 100.

The answer is we not only need all the teachers we have, we need more. We need the best. And you won’t recruit or keep the best by pink slipping every Spring, paying Walmart wages and benefits or constantly bashing a profession that should be respected as the most valuable in the nation.

All other professions serve the present, teachers serve the future.

Advertisements

From → Archives

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: