Tuesday, April 5, 2011

LIFO

The term doesn't conjure a lot of positive.

"LIFO" - last in, first out.  Kind of sounds like lipo. You know, short for liposuction (which a quick google search informs me is also known as "fat modeling").

Sounds kind of bloated, doesn't it? "LIFO" - it's not something I want.

"Hey - I think you've got LIFO."

"How do you know?! How do I get rid of it?!"

I can just see their grins when they came up with LIFO. It uses an aurally distasteful acronym to insinuate that seniority and due process protections provide publicly employed leeches with a job for life. LIFO - LifeO - it's like a cereal for imbeciles who are supposed to be teaching kids.

The problem with the way the seniority rights debate is showing up in the media is.....well....that the media is largely made up of morons and career opportunists who know how to play a story depending on the whims of public sentiment.

I guess what I see as so absurd is that the cornerstone argument of those who want to get rid of seniority rights is that we need better teachers in schools.

So - let's see if I can connect the dots...

1) We need better teachers in schools.

2) We should fire bad teachers and hire good teachers.

Okay - I'm still with them...

3) If we want good teachers, we should remove protections that safeguard them from the edudrone administrators (who don't know what effective instruction is) that we insist on hiring these days...

Whoops - I'm lost. That must be wrong. Let me try again.

3) We do a great job at training and recruiting highly trained, highly capable, culturally competent people to the profession - so we can use that long list to replace the old folks we fire...

Well, that can't be right because it's not true. Even Whitney Tilson says so....

3) Highly capable people will be more likely to stay in a profession that devalues their experience..

Wait - what? I'm just making myself more confused... One more time...

3) Only someone who couldn't make more money doing something worthwhile would want to stay in teaching longer than a few years, so why should we protect them?

Bingo!

Let me be clear. As a public school teacher on the very bottom rung of the seniority list, I support seniority because it's currently the fairest way we have of "deselecting" people when layoffs are necessary. If an administrator wants to get rid of a tenured teacher, they should build a case (and that's far from impossible). And if an incapable teacher gains tenure, then that's an issue of improving the quality and ethics of our administrators so that they don't award tenure to people who shouldn't be in the classrooms.

If you can find a better way of evaluating teacher performance (and it's not VAM - at least not now) and rewarding excellence and commitment, you'll have my vote for discontinuing seniority. Until then, the "LIFO" debate will only be useful in dividing teachers among themselves, which, I suppose, is exactly what it was intended for.

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