Behind the Headline: Charlotte, N.C. Gave Principals Power Over Teacher Layoffs. What Happened?

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Charlotte, N.C. Gave Principals Power Over Teacher Layoffs. What Happened?
Ed Week Teacher Beat | 8/11/15

Behind the Headline
Managing the Teacher Workforce
Education Next | Fall 2011

A new study looks at which teachers in Charlotte, North Carolina were laid off when principals had to reduce their teaching staffs due to budget shortfalls.

As Stephen Sawchuk notes, there has been a great deal of debate over whether teacher layoffs should be based on inverse seniority (“last in, first out,” which many union contracts and state laws require) or based on teacher effectiveness.

In North Carolina, public-sector collective bargaining is illegal, so principals are not required to fire the most recently hired employees. The study, by Matthew Kraft of Brown University, finds that in Charlotte,

layoffs still tended to be concentrated among teachers with four or fewer years of seniority. Nevertheless, principals also targeted less-effective teachers across all levels of seniority. And when that happened, student achievement benefited.

A study published in Education Next examined teacher layoffs in Washington state during the same time period.

That study, “Managing the Teacher Workforce: The consequences of last in, first out personnel policies,” by Dan Goldhaber and Roddy Theobald, found that last in, first out policies resulted in higher numbers of teacher layoffs than would be necessary if principals were able to make decisions based on teacher effectiveness.

“If districts instead adopted effectiveness-based layoff policies, they would be likely to lay off fewer teachers, achieve the same budgetary savings, and have a higher quality teacher workforce,” Goldhaber and Theobald concluded.

— Education Next

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