New Educators Win Teaching Awards, Then Shown the Door by Their Union

Posted: Jun 08, 2012 10:00 AM
Judith Alfaro, Daniel Cano, Edward Savarese, Chris Reger, Alison Zelton, Brad Keating, and Taylor Pfatenhauer were recently named the New Teachers of the Year by the Clark County School District. The School District , facing a budget shortfall, needs to lay off 1,000 teachers. Thanks to the Clark County Education Association, these seven New Teachers of the Year will be getting pink slips.

Due to a recent arbitration decision , the CCEA will continue its misguided last-in, first-out policy. The school district will only lay off those teachers who have received suspensions or multiple unsatisfactory notifications before laying off the newest teachers. As the Nevada Policy Research Institute notes:

“Last week, the seven teachers listed above were honored by the CCSD Board of Trustees as the best new teachers in the district. While these teachers received plaques applauding their accomplishments, they are among the lowest teachers on the seniority totem pole…Thanks to the efforts of union bosses to preserve seniority in layoffs, only 38 teachers with discipline problems will be released before seniority-based layoffs begin.”

Last-in, first-out policies have proven to be the wrong way to decide which teachers to reward and which teachers to dismiss. The policy assumes that teaching experience and an advanced degree will automatically lead to better performance in the classroom. In fact, the seven teachers awarded by Clark County School District may be every bit as effective as their more experienced colleagues.

Fortunately, there are better alternatives to dated last-in, first-out policies. School districts should reward teachers for their performance instead of seniority. Teaching experience and advanced degrees are not reliable indicators of performance in the classroom, so school districts should not blindly reward either. School districts should lower the barriers to entry while being more discerning when it comes to retaining and rewarding the teachers that they hire. There are no indicators of future success for teachers with no experience, so restricting access to the profession only serves to shrink the pool of potentially effective educators. As Heritage Foundation’s Jason Richwine notes:

“Unlike the standard warning about investment funds, for teachers the best predictor of future results is past performance. Administrators cannot know how effective a potential teacher is until that teacher gets into a classroom. Teachers who show strong performance should move quickly up the pay scale, while those who perform poorly should be let go or be denied raises.”

Last-in, first-out is a flawed union policy that punishes too many effective young educators, and in typical union-fashion fails to incentivize productivity or competence.

Editor's Note: This post was authored by Townhall editorial intern Kyle Bonnell