This recent brief from the National Council on Teacher Quality is concerned with the question of what factors should be considered when school districts must decide which teachers to lay off during periods of tight budgets. Most districts, according to the brief, base these decisions primarily on long-standing "Last Hired, First Fired" teacher seniority policies. The main point of this brief is to argue that seniority is not a fair, useful, or cost effective criterion; instead, teachers' quality and performance could and should be the main criteria used to make these employment decisions. The brief's arguments and recommendations are straightforward, reasonable and commonsense. However, proposals to measure, recognize and reward differences in teacher quality and utilize these in employment and promotion decisions are neither new nor unique. As the history of education reform has shown, implementing such proposals is challenging and often reform attempts have met little or no success. To its credit, this brief recognizes some of the many hurdles and difficulties that need to be overcome or addressed. A useful contribution of the brief is to document wide variations among districts in their layoff criteria and mechanisms and to summarize specific options and concrete alternatives used in particular districts.
Ingersoll, R. & Merrill, L. (2010). Review of "Teacher Layoffs: Rethinking 'Last Hired, First Fired' Policies." Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. Retrieved [date] from http://epicpolicy.org/thinktank/review-teacher-layoffs