by Erin C '14

Teacher Layoffs May Be On the Way

Budget cuts have been tough on New York City public schools, and the Department of Education has announced recently that it intends to lay off many teachers. Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed budget cuts that would take away 1.4 billion dollars from the city’s schools. With the current laws, any layoffs will be based on seniority. This means that the newest teachers would lose their jobs first, instead of the teachers that have been teaching in the New York City public school system longer. Teachers and parents aren’t happy with the layoffs or with the rules of seniority.  Students seem disinterested for the most part, but do have an opinion about what decides if their teachers will keep their jobs or not.
Fortunately, this will have a minimal effect on BSGE. There aren’t many teachers employed here that are very new to teaching in the public school system. This means that seniority laws will keep most of BSGE’s teachers safe from layoffs. However, if the laws are changed and a method of teacher evaluation is used as a replacement, it is unclear what the fate of the school’s teachers will be. This is one of many things to figure out while the budget plan is not going anywhere anytime soon.
The DOE’s plan is more of a warning than anything. It was released to gain the support of more parents, but the numbers might not be accurate. If the plan does go through, a total of 4,675 New York City public school teachers will be laid off, according to the Department of Education’s plan. There are 1,600 public schools in the city, and almost 80% would be affected by the layoffs. Filip Martinovic, a 9th grader, said “I think these budget cuts are unfair. This many teachers shouldn’t be losing their jobs.” Unfortunately, it looks like the budget cuts are inevitable. If the exact plan for cuts to the education budget are followed, one to five teachers will be laid off in many schools.  According to the DOE’s plan, nine schools would lose half of the teachers that they have since most are newly hired to the system.
If all of these teachers are actually laid off, the schools will decide to let go of the newest teachers.  Many are upset over this because the teachers that may actually teach better or yield better results will lose their jobs over a teacher that is less effective because of seniority. Many parents are angered with this because they want the best teachers for their children. They do not want possibly great teachers to be laid off because the current rules say the older (but not necessarily wiser) teachers have the right to keep their jobs.
Most students seem to agree with their parents when it comes to teacher seniority. When asked, students come to a general consensus about what should be considered when schools are forced to lay off teachers. Adela Goldsmith, an 8th grader, said, “The results that teachers get and how they do should decide which ones keep their jobs. New teachers can be just as good as old ones.” However, the details of teacher layoffs and the current laws had to be explained to many students. Syed Azmain, a 9th grader, said, “I honestly don’t know that much about teachers and seniority.” It is possible that many people won’t have strong opinions until it affects them directly.
While many parents and students would prefer teacher layoffs to be based on teacher performance, the United Federation of Teachers, the teachers’ union, supports seniority system. They work for the teachers, which means that this union has the welfare of teachers at the top of the list of priorities. They would rather the teachers that have been working the longest be spared during layoffs.  They argue that abolishing seniority would simply lead to higher salaried teachers being fired, not necessarily less effective ones.  There is also tremendous debate on how to measure the effectiveness of teachers, whether through evaluations or standardized testing.
This issue has been debated for a while now. Mayor Bloomberg has been a vocal advocate for abolishing the rules of seniority for teachers in the New York system. He has been trying to push a bill doing away with this into the State Senate and Assembly. Meanwhile, others have been trying to fight it. The State Senate passed the bill on March 1st but has to pass through the Assembly still. Another issue that will be discussed is about developing the methods for teacher evaluations. There are still many obstacles to overcome in the resolution of the issue.


Leave a Reply

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

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s