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October 6, 2010 - In a closed session yesterday, the LAUSD School Board approved the outline of a potential settlement with the ACLU that would limit layoffs at up to 45 low-performing schools, undermining the current seniority-based layoff system. UTLA was not aware of the terms that were presented to the Board. The “settlement” is subject to court approval, and UTLA will raise its objections to the parties and the court.
- Low-performing schools will be left with a higher concentration of less experienced teachers. To be effective, schools must have a healthy mix of both new and veteran educators. Also, studies show that new teachers are more likely to voluntarily leave the profession, which would lead to higher teacher turnover at these schools, the opposite of the intended goal of stabilizing staff.
- The settlement would undermine due process rights and other long-held protections against discrimination and favoritism. It is an end-run around the Education Code and a further attack on the teaching profession.
- The settlement is unnecessary. State law already gives school districts flexibility in layoff procedures to best meet the needs of students. In addition, LAUSD could have prevented the situation by enforcing its own policy to create a balance of new and veteran teachers to ensure equitable staffing.
- The settlement does nothing to solve ongoing staffing problems at struggling schools. These schools would be better served by making lasting improvements to the teaching and learning environment to help recruit and retain experienced teachers.
- There is no data that shows that eliminating seniority has a positive effect on student outcomes. Seniority-based layoffs continue to be the fairest, most predictable, least discriminatory way to deal with a difficult situation. In fact, state legislators considered and then rejected changes to the layoff process this year.
- We can’t lose sight of the real problem facing education in the state: the chronic and devastating underfunding of public education that has slashed the budget by more than $17 billion already, triggering the painful layoffs.
UTLA members recognize the severe impact on student learning when schools lose a large percentage of teachers and health and human services professionals, which is why we voted to accept furlough days to save more than 2,000 positions. Our members will continue to put our students first, but we cannot support arbitrary, wide-reaching changes that will not help our students in the long run.
UTLA and our attorneys will be meeting with the parties and the court in the next few weeks to review the terms of the proposed settlement. If necessary, UTLA will formally oppose the proposed settlement.