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ERIC Number: EJ910566
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1539-9664
Invisible Ink in Teacher Contracts
Cohen, Emily; Walsh, Kate
Education Next, v10 n4 p18-23 Fall 2010
When the Cleveland, Ohio, school board had to make radical cuts in its budget last spring, it was forced to eliminate 540 teaching jobs. There wasn't a whole lot of mystery about "which" teachers among Cleveland's 3,500-member teaching force would be the ones to lose their jobs. The state's hard-and-fast seniority rule--last hired, first fired--provided Cleveland school officials with little wiggle room for deciding which teachers had to go. Across the country, many cash-strapped districts fretting over likely layoffs are eyeing seniority rules as they hammer out new contracts. To the surprise of some district superintendents, contract negotiations are not likely to offer much relief. In fact, when it comes to seniority rules, and many other core aspects of teachers' employment, the contract is not the problem. State law is. In Ohio's case, state law dictates that teachers on continuing contracts and those with greater seniority should have preference, language that is effectively emulated in 14 other states in the country. While teacher contracts may flesh out the details of school rules and rights of teachers, states are in the driver's seat. Local control--although it is still brandished when expedient--is today more myth than reality, at least when it comes to matters involving teachers. The contract certainly still plays a big role in determining a teacher's pay, work schedule, and benefits, but the power behind the policies with the most impact on teacher quality, such as tenure and performance assessment, lies with states. That power has steadily increased over the decades, especially in recent years, as federal initiatives like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top have pushed states to assume more authority over education.
Hoover Institution. Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-6010. Tel: 800-935-2882; Fax: 650-723-8626; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Ohio; United Kingdom (England)
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: No Child Left Behind Act 2001