Sunday, May 23, 2010

Why Seniority?

I've been asked to write an article addressing the seniority issue. In various conversations I've had, it is a more complex issue than appears on the surface to hard and fast unionists. I am on deadline so if you have some ideas leave them in the comments section or email me.

A supposition: say we can show in some empirical way - that 10 and 20 year teachers similarly capable, knowledgeable, effective - we know that means test scores to the ed deformers - but we may define effective any way WE want. We gain nothing in teaching ability in choosing between these teachers. The NY Times seemed to be saying this a few weeks ago. Now I can honestly say that I can see little if any difference in all my years between 10 and 20 yr teachers. As a matter of fact, the 20 year person might be getting a bit tired or burnt or cynical. Both have tenure. But there is a big difference in salary. Use 22 years and we have a 100g teacher vs a - I'm not sure what a 10 yr teacher makes now - they have reached the top step but longevity raises havn't kicked in yet - but there is as big difference.

In the business world it is clear - you dump the 22 year old and keep the 10 year person.

Makes sense. "Yippee" goes the 10 year person. But then he begins to think. "What happens to me in 12 years?" Even in the business world is there a social cost for all the people knowing they will be kilt off as they age? Hmmm. Maybe it is not so good to earn so much more. Double hmmm. Maybe if we figured a way to close that gap instead of giving raises the way we do, we might address that issue. I'm not advocating anything, just thinking out loud.

Reminds me of that Twilight Zone episode where the planet was so crowded each person had only the spot they were standing on. Someone had to go whenever some younger person was ready to stand in their spot.

That may be the ultimate ed deform plan. When teachers reach 30, kill them off.

Some interesting questions:

To what extent does the private sector operate under seniority? More than people would think I expect.

What about the community control advocates who would want to balance teaching staffs in a way that may bump up against seniority rules?

What about the loss of teachers of color under the ed deform ("civil rights") onslaught? How do we redress that balance? We know that in NYC certainly that the bulk of newer teachers are white so that would not be an issue when it came to layoffs but say they recruited a mass of teachers of color and layoffs did come? Theoretical issue for now I know. Some of this touches on what happened in 1968 when the community demanded the ability to hire and fire teachers irregardless of seniority. The resisters battling the ed deformers comprise defenders of union work rules AND people calling for local control of schools. Some of these issues will need some in depth discussions to resolve.

How does the tenure issue affect the seniority question or can we separate them for this discussion?

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