Sunday, February 27, 2011

Petitions to Support LIFO and Seniority: Five Year and Under Teachers and Parent Groups Strike Back at the Ed Deform Empire- and CSA Too

Last Update: Monday, Feb. 28, 2011, 8AM

Hi folks,
A group of us who met at a recent NYCORE meeting drafted this letter from newer teachers in support of the seniority rule. Will you pass it on to your lists? We are hoping to get as many "newer" teachers (who have been in public schools in NY for 5 years or less) to sign today or tomorrow as possible so we can get it to the media tomorrow. Thank you! 

A group of parents group and a group of younger and newer teachers, outraged by bogus groups like ME4ME, have decided to strike back with a petition supporting senior teachers and LIFO. They worked on this idea after meeting at a NYCORE breakout group - a groups you wouldn't know existed if you read the mainstream press or even Gotham Schools. (Sign up for the NYCORE March. 26 conference.) In addition, Leonie Haimson and other parents are also calling for support for teachers with their own petition. And guess what else? The principals' union, the CSA, is joining in too.

Read all about it below:

Let's see how much this counter attack by a group of relatively new teachers gets from the press - listening Gotham? I guess not so far this AM - here you have young teachers, parents and supervisors - and it's NOT a story?

Copy and paste this and circulate to the appropriate people in your schools. Remind them that if they remain in the NYC schools it won't be long before they are more senior to a whole lot of new people. 
Dear colleagues,
 In the current budget negotiations, Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Black are pressuring Governor Cuomo to overturn the teacher seniority rule, known as “last in first out,” which would eliminate protection in the law for more senior teachers.  Attached is a letter from newer teachers (who have taught in New York State for five years or less), expressing our opposition to overturning seniority rights.  In addition to the reasons outlined it the text of the letter, we support upholding the seniority rule for the following reasons:

·      We recognize the importance of hard-won teacher job protection measures –including the right to due process in job evaluation. 

·      We value the irreplaceable knowledge of experience in honing the craft of teaching and the importance of more senior role models for newer teachers.

·      Bloomberg and Black wish to measure teacher performance, for the purpose of determining who should be laid off, by student test scores.  Turning the classroom into a stressful test-preparation zone restricts the space we have to learn about the real needs of our students and how to respond to those needs with all the creativity and rigor that the media extol us for.

·      The new teacher programs (New York City Teaching Fellows, Peace Corps Fellow, Teach for America, and others) by which many of us came to work in New York City public schools often shortchange teacher development.  These programs place inexperienced teachers directly in the classroom, often in new schools that are not organized enough to provide us with beneficial support. Thus many of us commence our careers under extremely stressful working conditions which contribute to a high new teacher turnover rate. The resulting “revolving door” of newer teachers may, ironically, facilitate the budgetary number crunching of our financially stressed superiors, as alternative certification programs provide a constant pool of entry-level faculty who are less expensive to employ. We reject top-down reforms which treat us as cheap labor without building in the true cost of professional development and adequate collaboration time for new teachers.

·      Even if we were to be kept on now thanks to a merit system that undermines seniority protection, this does not mean we will be able to practice our work into the future without constantly being required to prove our worth as educators according to the popular evaluation rubric of the day. 

·      Bloomberg and Black’s plea for “flexibility” in deciding who to lay off is, ultimately, a strategy to weaken teachers’ power to collectively organize and advocate for more support for all teachers.

Please join us as we stand with our senior teachers to fight to uphold the seniority rule and other union-won protections. 

An Open Letter from Newer Teachers of New York State
 February 21, 2011
Dear parents, students, colleagues, school administrators, elected officials, and members of the public,

Currently, New York State's seniority rule protects experienced teachers from layoffs, a policy sometimes known as "last in, first out." In recent budget negotiations, Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Black have pressured Governor Cuomo to overturn this rule. We, the undersigned teachers who have been teaching in New York State for five years or less, stand in solidarity with our more experienced colleagues and strongly support maintaining the seniority rule. 

As newer teachers, we rely on our more senior colleagues for guidance and support.  Senior teachers offer us their advice, their formal mentorship, and their connections with communities.  Without more senior teachers, we would lose our bridge to lessons learned through years of dedicated work in the school system.

In addition, the rates of black and Latino new teacher hires in New York City have steadily declined since 2002, while the vast majority of New York City public school students are black and Latino. Opening up more senior teachers to layoffs would risk further decreasing the already sparse ranks of teachers of color.  These teachers provide guidance for younger teachers of all backgrounds, and play an important role in the lives of our students.

We also believe that Bloomberg and Black’s so-called “merit-based” system for retaining teachers will foster competitive, fearful school cultures that are detrimental both to teachers' professional development and to student learning. In addition, Bloomberg and Black seek to measure teacher performance by student test scores, an imperfect measure at best, and one that encourages narrowly test-focused curricula.

Finally, Bloomberg and Black's arguments against the seniority rule are based on the fact that newer teachers work for lower salaries than our more experienced peers; allowing experienced teachers to be laid off would therefore reduce the total number of necessary layoffs.  This argument, however, fails to account for the true cost of professional development and adequate support for newer teachers.  It also ignores the fact that teacher experience is one of the most reliable predictors of student learning.  If student achievement is the priority, then experienced teachers are more than worth their cost.

Ultimately, the debate over who to lay off is a distraction from the root causes of inequity that continue to affect our profession and the lives of our students; budget cuts should not include any teacher layoffs.  Education is an investment in our future, and cuts to education are ultimately short-sighted.  We reject political tactics that raise the specter of massive teacher layoffs in efforts to divide the workforce and pit parents against teachers.  In the interest of our students, we stand with senior teachers in supporting the seniority rule.

Newer Teachers of New York State 
Click below to add your name:
 Parents Support Teachers

I just created a petition entitled Prevent ANY teacher layoffs and protect the seniority rights of teachers! because I care deeply about this very important issue.
To send a message to the Governor and your state legislators, click here:

It'll just take a minute.

Meanwhile, our other petition, against any budget cuts to schools now has 598 signers; you could be the 600th!

Once you're done, please ask your friends to sign both petitions and spread the word. 

Leonie Haimson, Class Size Matters

Excerpt: Remember that these layoff numbers will be projections, not real numbers but a worst case scenario that is meant to scare you, your staff and parents and generally strike fear into your hearts and generate support for their bill to eliminate your seniority and tenure rights.  In the past, similar projections have been greatly exaggerated and layoffs, if any, have  amounted to substantially fewer than projected.

Council of School Supervisors & Administrators <>

Feb. 25, 2011

The note below alerts you to the fact that the DOE was likely to email you with teacher layoff projections for each of your schools in an attempt to present you with a worst case scenario.  Our analysis of the DOE's strategy is included in the note.

This evening, we learned that late in the day the DOE gave the media those projections embargoed for Monday.  The DOE did not share those projections with CSA.  This DOE strategy gives reporters ample time to contact you over the weekend to ask you how these projected losses will affect your schools. We don't want you to be blindsided by the DOE's action; therefore, we strongly suggest that you take the time to read the message that follows.

Layoffs and Last-in/First-out

You have been reading recent news reports about a bill introduced by Long Island Republican state Senator John Flanagan that would strip teachers and supervisors of their current  seniority and tenure rights. Teachers would be laid off if they have had an unsatisfactory rating in the last 5 years, have been faced with a fine or suspension, have been the subject of an SCI, OSI or OEO investigation, have been  in excess for more than six months or meet one of several other criteria. The criteria in this bill also apply to  Principals and Assistant Principals.   In terms of seniority rights, it puts you in the exact same boat as teachers.

In addition, in the very near future, you may receive DOE projections telling you that thousands of teachers have to be excessed due to a budget crisis in NYC. The projections are likely to include the specific impact on your particular school and your teachers.  Remember that these layoff numbers will be projections, not real numbers but a worst case scenario that is meant to scare you, your staff and parents and generally strike fear into your hearts and generate support for their bill to eliminate your seniority and tenure rights.  In the past, similar projections have been greatly exaggerated and layoffs, if any, have  amounted to substantially fewer than projected.

CSA, UFT and many good government groups are fighting not just to whittle down the number of projected layoffs, but to eliminate them altogether.  We accept Governor Cuomo's  contention that  New York City, with its $3 billion surplus and its revenues way above projection, does not need to have any teacher layoffs at all.  We also believe that additional funds can be raised by leveling a fair tax on the extremely rich.

CSA has and always will support improving accountability for teachers and school leaders and continues to be open to discussing better ways to better evaluate the work of educators. But we do not believe that the threat of layoffs should be used as a political tool to eliminate your seniority rights wholesale.

As union members, you should contact your state legislators and local council members to ensure that budget cuts to education will not result in teacher layoffs that would be tragic for the children you serve.  If you need assistance contacting your appropriate elected officials, contact our government relations department: and in New York City and in Albany.

For CSA's full response to the Flanagan bill, please click HERE. <>

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