In his opinion piece for Reuters, “School Reform Deniers,” Steven Brill accurately describes last-in, first-out seniority rules as making no sense in our schools today.
LIFO, as the policy is known, requires that when budget shortfalls lead to teacher layoffs, the last teacher hired should be the first one to go. This happens completely without regard to how teachers are actually doing in their classrooms. There is no question teacher layoffs are awful, but going about them this way makes the problem even worse.
The problem is pervasive, especially during economic downturns. Just within the past few months, about a thousand good teachers in Philadelphia lost their jobs under LIFO.
Researchers from Stanford and the University of Washington have separately found that when you use LIFO to conduct layoffs, as opposed to considering job performance, you let some of your most effective teachers go. With huge achievement gaps in our schools and high drop-out rates threatening our children’s future, can we really afford to do that?