The New York Senate approved the repeal of the “Last In, First Out” policy for New York City school teachers in a vote today. The senate voted 10-8 in favor of a new policy that says teachers with seniority should not have precedence over their more junior coworkers. With Bloomberg planning to cut 5,000 teacher jobs soon, the policy is coming under heavy fire — even by the mayor himself. The New York Post quotes the mayor as saying that the downsizing should be done “intelligently and not based on something that doesn’t have anything to do with the quality of education.”
It’s easy to think of this in a personal context: Remember that middle-aged chemistry teacher who gave too much work and would never explain anything? Everyone would complain about being in her class because she was such a bad teacher. Well now she’s older and still teaching at your high school. There are new teachers in her department now though. New teachers that use interactive materials in their lessons and spend time offering tutoring students after school. Under Bloomberg’s budget gap correcting plan, the new awesome teacher could be fired while the old one coasts on the bad job she’s been doing for 20 years.
In a regular workplace, this is a common sense decision. People should not get paid by a company for doing a bad job while firing better and younger underlings for doing a better job. “Who’s the best worker?” should be the standard, not just, “Who has spent more years in the system?”
Supporters of “Last In, First Out” frequently make the point that half of teachers quit in five years. They think that young teachers shouldn’t be given too much credit too fast. But if New York City wants its students to perform better, people should to understand that a good teacher for a short amount of time could be better than having a bad teacher that stays forever.