Very important report (pdf) from the New Teacher Project about the impact of seniority and excess rules in teacher collective bargaining contracts. Yes, yes, we always hear how “there is nothing to see here…” and this is not an issue. But in fact there is something and it’s worrisome. Summary here (pdf).
Punchine: Hard to run a school in this environment, hard on new teachers (yes, the same ones everyone ostensibly wants to support and retain), and not real good for the kids. 40 percent of vacancies in the five urban districts that NTP surveyed were filled by transfers that schools had no say or limited say over and about half of principals surveyed said they hide vacancies to try to evade this system. And, pretty damning evidence that the teachers being forced on schools often are the low-performers because the excessing/transfer process is easier than the termination process…
Hopefully the information in this report, coupled with its sober tone and sensible recommendations will spark a serious discussion that moves past charges of “teacher bashing” because these issues can be addressed without either fundamentally damaging teacher unionism or treating teachers unfairly. Besides, is this really what unions are supposed to be about? Sure seems like it makes it harder to get health insurance for janitors or a decent pension for firefighters marching under the same banner as this stuff…paging Andy Stern.
PS–Don’t shoot the messenger, the lead author is a Clinton alum.
Update II: Is “new unionism” officially dead now? New Unionism patron saint and TURN leader Adam Urbanski resigned from The New Teacher Project’s board saying that allowing schools to choose to hire new teachers they want instead of excessed ones is employer disloyalty. That basically shows the outline of this debate though Eduwonk speculates that the resignation has more to do with Urbanski’s own politics than anything else…a lot of displeasure about this report in the teachers’ union community and surely a lot of pressure to go to an “us and them” posture even though this is not an us and them report as these statements of support illustrate.