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LIFO and Layoffs

July 13, 2011

Education Week reports another round of layoffs in Memphis in which “every teacher laid off Tuesday had been with the school system for less than two years”.  With poverty rates in that city at 23.1 percent as of the 2010 census and rising in the foreseeable future, it is important to note the emerging effects of staff cuts on students, and the disproportionate effect of these cuts on students from low-SES areas.  The Center on Reinventing Public Education published a study of 15 California districts showing that high-poverty schools also had a disproportionate number of teaching staff with less than four years of experience.  These schools would thus be more significantly affected by layoffs in a LIFO (last in, first out) staff reduction policy.

David Monk, in the Princeton-Brookings  journal The Future of Children, used data from the 2003-4 National Center for Education Statistics School and Staffing Survey to demonstrate that smaller schools, more likely to be in rural areas, have a larger share of inexperienced teachers than larger schools.  When crafting hiring and staff reduction policies, boards and leaders should consider how LIFO affects these already vulnerable populations.

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