On a related note, the Partnership for Educational Justice just released a press release on the status of a motion, HG v. Harrington, pressed by six Newark parents in the NJ Supreme Court. The motion asks the state to retain the Abbott rulings, which send compensatory aid to thirty-one poor districts. The parents also oppose the State’s proposal to the Supreme Court that the “enforcement of New Jersey’s “last in, first out” teacher layoff law (LIFO) should be left to the discretion of the State Commissioner of Education, a political appointee.”
In the realm of retaining effective teachers, LIFO is a monkey wrench, forcing districts, when enduring fiscal duress, to lay off teachers without regard for quality, even as poorly measured by NJ’s current implementation of tenure law.
From the press release:
Earlier this month, the New Jersey State Department of Education released state and district level educator evaluation data from the 2014-15 school year. The data revealed that Newark employs more ineffective teachers than any other district in the state and more than five times the number of ineffective teachers in Camden, the district with the second highest number. In the 2014-15 school year, 2.4 percent of New Jersey teachers taught in Newark, but in the same year:
More than half (53.3 percent) of the state’s ineffective teachers were in Newark
Less than one percent (0.9 percent) of the state’s highly-effective teachers were in Newark.
Additionally, 12.4 percent of Newark’s teachers received a less-than-effective rating, which was nearly eight times the statewide average (1.6 percent).
To better understand the effect that LIFO layoffs would have on Newark’s overall teacher quality, Newark Public Schools ran the numbers in 2014 on a hypothetical teacher layoff scenario. Under the quality-blind LIFO layoff mandate, 75 percent of the teachers laid off would have been rated effective or highly effective, and only 4 percent of the teachers laid off would have been rated ineffective. Under a performance-based system, only 35 percent of teachers laid off would have been rated effective and no teachers rated highly effective would lose their jobs.
Also see this op-ed in the Star-Ledger from Ralia Polechronis, Executive Director of Partnership for Educational Justice.