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ERIC Number: ED527103
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 10
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 8
What's Missing from the Debate on Seniority? A Policy Brief
Center for Education Organizing (NJ1)
As states across the country face unprecedented budget shortfalls, communities as well as policymakers are trying to stave off the potentially devastating impacts of budget cuts on schools and other basic services. Many public school systems are facing significant shortfalls, forcing "reductions in force" or RIFs, of teachers and other school staff. The numbers are significant. In California, over 19,000 teachers received notice of possible layoff. In Milwaukee, over 350 teachers have lost their jobs. In both Chicago and Philadelphia, layoffs have numbered close to 1,000. Teacher layoffs are painful in any district, under any circumstances. But the way that layoffs are conducted--how decisions are made and what their impact is from school to school--can be critical to controlling the damage they bring. This year, with so many teaching positions on the line, a strong national effort has been mounted to eliminate seniority rules (also known as "last in-first out" or LIFO rules) that govern teacher layoffs. Supporters argue that teacher "quality", not years of experience, should be the primary lens through which to determine which teachers are dismissed and which are protected from layoffs. Several states (Florida, Ohio, Idaho) have passed new laws prohibiting seniority and instead requiring that RIFs target those teachers who have performed poorly on district evaluations. Other states are considering similar proposals. In the face of continuing inequities in school systems and the potential for those inequities to be exacerbated by budget cuts, the debate over seniority rights is resonating in many communities. This debate spotlights some important equity-oriented issues, but it is unclear whether and how debating seniority rights will help communities address these issues adequately. This brief seeks to unpack the debate over seniority rights and offer community groups a better understanding of some of the underlying issues being raised. (Contains 1 footnote.)
Center for Education Organizing. Available from: Annenberg Institute for School Reform. Brown University, Box 1985, Providence, RI 02912. Tel: 212-328-9280; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University