Tammy Thomas Garnes

Archive for February, 2011|Monthly archive page

An Op-Ed by Me and Rhee? (I’m surprised she would have me too ;)

In Uncategorized on February 24, 2011 at 6:01 pm

‘Last in, first out’ bad for students



7:15 p.m. Wednesday, February 23, 2011  AJC.com 

You can’t underestimate the power of quality educators in our schools. When children are taught by an effective teacher three years in a row it can change their life trajectories. So, one would think that we would do everything possible to ensure that all kids have access to the best teachers. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Across the nation, some 160,000 teacher jobs are at risk because of a wave of layoffs that will likely occur this summer. To make matters worse, the majority of the country’s states and school districts conduct layoffs using an antiquated policy commonly referred to as “last in, first out,” or LIFO. The policy mandates that the last teacher hired is the first teacher fired, regardless of how good that teacher may be. Effectiveness with students plays no role in these employment decisions.

To put this issue into perspective, Georgia is facing a budget crisis of $1.7 billion, and legislators will likely make major cuts to education, which means 30,000 teachers may lose their jobs statewide. Unfortunately, because of “last in, first out” policies, our children stand to lose some of the best teachers.

Research shows that in schools, the factor that has the greatest impact on student achievement is the quality of the teacher in the classroom. With only 27 percent of Georgia’s eighth-graders on grade level in reading on the last National Assessment of Educational Progress exam, Georgia can’t afford to lose effective educators. If cuts are inevitable, we must ensure that they have minimal impact on children.