In response to your editorial on the effects that seniority layoff rules might have on Los Angeles Unified School District campuses with high numbers of new teachers, I would like to cite my own experience.
I came to LAUSD in 2007 to work at the new West Adams Preparatory High School, losing the seniority I had accrued in other districts. Starting in the 2010-11 school year, I had to undergo the ordeal of watching the campus on which I was a founding faculty member be torn apart by layoffs. I was forced to be a long-term substitute in my own classroom, and I was eventually moved to another campus.
Today, very few teachers at West Adams remain from when we opened in 2007. Compare this to Banning High in Wilmington, which is where I am now — and where there are very few teachers with less than 10 years of seniority.
Not all low-seniority teachers are brand new and less experienced. Furthermore, teachers won't stay in schools with poor conditions or where administrators are unsupportive. A combination of solutions is needed to address this problem.
Your editorial and other opinions barely skim the surface of this issue.
What is a "good" teacher? What is a "bad" teacher? It is easy to identify the very best and the very worst. But what about the vast majority in the middle? Test scores, dropout rates, demographics, support for teachers, parental involvement, infrastructure and many other variables impact these decisions.
Administrators perform evaluations, but just like teachers they are spread out among the good, the bad and the in between. Administrator ranks are rife with incompetence and cronyism. What teacher would like to be evaluated by a poor administrator?
Those critical of seniority give the impression that teachers with the most experience in the classroom can't be "good" and new teachers can't be "bad."
Yes, all schools deserve good teachers, and high-performing schools are just as entitled to them as underperforming ones.
David R. Gillespie
All teachers and all students should have small classes, strong support for discipline problems and administrators who care about how their school is doing.