First Out And DARPA’s In…

Richard Whitmire writes about “last in, first out” policies for laying off teachers.  Money line: “We haven’t heard any good defense from union officials of last-hired-first-fired — perhaps because there aren’t any.”

And the U.S. Department of Education wants to launch a DARPA-like entity. Good as far as it goes but worth remembering the extent to which i3 (and Race to the Top) showed the limitations of what Department of Education can do now absent some changes to current policy.  In this paper we wrote for Brookings in 2008 Sara Mead and I look at DARPA and implications and cautions for education (pdf). This is a potentially powerful idea but not unless it’s set up to work.

4 Replies to “First Out And DARPA’s In…”

  1. Hello history, get me a rewrite:
    Unencumbered by contracts or laws, Rhee had free rein to choose whom to let go. Some people lost their jobs not because they were bad teachers but because they taught in underutilized schools or low-demand subjects. But Rhee made sure that the majority of the firings were based on effectiveness alone.

    This comes from a guy who would to tar people who think Rhee’s lying about her “success” at Harlem Park ES has some bearing on the soundness of her educational philosophy.

  2. Of course there’s a good reason (if not more) for “last in, first out”: it prevents superintendents/school boards from picking and choosing teachers on a whim. Mr. Whitmire may be of the opinion that administrators are never illogical, opinionated, wrong, hypocritical, discriminatory or otherwise play favorites, but they do and a good seniority-based RIF system prevents abuse.

  3. hard to divine what you’re trying to say here. Is it that Rhee should have fired more bad teachers and fewer teachers in underutilized schools? I would agree!

    Here’s my out of context quote:

    After roughly the fourth year of teaching, seniority has little effect on who’s good or not. Last-hired-first-fired policies mean that more expensive teachers stay on the payroll, even though they may not be any better than their newer colleagues. National teacher union leaders seem to sense their vulnerability on this issue.

  4. Uh, Nancy: so because school administrators might be illogical in their firing decisions, we should strip them of all decision rights and instead implement a system-wide policy that is universally illogical?

    Teachers – alone among all employees in the world – simply cannot be evaluated, let alone fired, by their bosses because their bosses might screw it up.

    Back in reality, my child’s teacher (young and great) might lose his job so that the neighbor teacher (old and mediocre) can keep hers because our principal (old and great) can’t be trusted to make a decision in the best interest of kids?

    Re-read your post and you will understand why the unions are stedily losing the support of parents.

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