On Sunday, the LA Times ran a devastating story that illustrates the real cost of the state’s seniority-based teacher layoff policy that was pushed through some years ago by California’s largest teachers’ unions, including UTLA.
The story, by Jason Felch, Jason Song and Doug Smith, focuses on one school—Liechty Middle School—to show a drama that has unfolded at many of the district’s schools, particularly those in lower income ares, where some of the most gifted and dedicated of LAUSD’s teachers were among the first to be pink-slipped, their jobs given to teachers with more seniority—some very good, some far less so— or to long-term substitutes, with children suffering as a result.
Here’s how it opens:
John H. Liechty Middle School opened in 2007 in Los Angeles’ impoverished Westlake neighborhood with a seasoned principal, dozens of energetic young teachers and a mission to “reinvent education” in the nation’s second-largest school district.
The students had come from some of the lowest-performing schools in the city. But by the end of the first year, their scores on standardized tests showed the most improvement in English among district middle schools and exceptional growth in math, according to a Times analysis.
“It was a dream job,” said Monique Gascon, who taught English and history at Liechty during its first two years. “We had a lot of autonomy as teachers, we had a lot of support from administration and the kids were really learning. We could see the progress.”
But when budget cuts came in the summer of 2009 — at the end of the school’s second year — more than half of the teachers were laid off. Among those dismissed were Gascon and 16 others who ranked in the top fifth of district middle school instructors in boosting test scores, The Times’ analysis found. Many were replaced by a parade of less effective teachers, including many short-term substitutes.
By the end of the last school year, Liechty had plummeted from first to 61st — near the bottom among middle schools — in raising English scores and fallen out of the top 10 in boosting math scores.
“Everything we worked those two years to instill is gone,” said Amanda Uy, a math and science teacher who was laid off and now teaches part time at a private school. “It’s really tragic.”
Read the whole thing.