Education Question 9

Should seniority govern teacher layoffs? If not, how would you recommend that future layoffs be handled?

Gery Chico: As addressed above, we must ensure that we have only the best teachers in the classroom with our children.  Seniority must be part of the equation in governing teacher layoffs, but it cannot be the sole criterion.  As Mayor of Chicago, I will implement a research-based teacher evaluation system.  This evaluation system will be developed with the teachers’ union, will be fair, and will utilize the best developments in evaluation methods.

Miguel del Valle:
Procedures for determining which teachers are laid off is a negotiated item with the Chicago Teachers Union. Teachers with less seniority should generally be laid off before those with more seniority, but other factors such as educational certifications and teacher evaluations should be considered.

Rahm Emanuel:
In Chicago's schools, layoffs are typically done by seniority. I want to change that policy to ensure that those who are laid off are the least effective teachers, not the most junior. This will require a new teacher evaluation system based on a comprehensive assessment of instructional quality and student performance, not simply results from one annual exam.

Carol Moseley Braun:
No answer.

Patrica Van Pelt-Watkins:
I believe that teacher layoffs should not be based on seniority only, but on the needs of students.  The current layoff process in Chicago Public Schools allows for situations where a school may be left with no reading or math teachers because those teachers had the lowest tenure.  That is simply wrong, and undermines our children’s education.

Furthermore, I believe that these processes should ensure that we protect high performing teachers.  Los Angeles recently laid off several teachers, and they learned that 20% of those laid off were in the top 20% of all teachers. By using seniority for layoffs, we might as well be flipping a coin. In addition, we know that laying off the most inexperienced teachers first hurts our low-income and minority schools the most.

William "Doc" Walls, III: Seniority should govern layoffs.