The Learning Curve is a weekly column that answers questions about schools using plain language. Have a question about how your local schools work? Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Teacher layoffs still have people worried and anxious, even if there end up being fewer of them than originally thought.
Most of the questions I’ve received for this column so far have focused on how layoffs disproportionately impact poor schools, why that is and what can be done to reverse the trend.
“How do we break the grip of unions on public education, which causes the weakest and least motivated to go into and stay in teaching, and is most destructive to the future of the poor and non-white students?”
“Does San Diego’s teacher placement, layoff and rotation policy have a disparate impact on students of color? The most inexperienced teachers are routinely placed and then fired out of the lowest performing schools. The ones that aren’t fired are rotated to higher performing schools. The chaos keeps students from learning. Sure seems to me San Diego’s ‘neutral’ policy has a definite disparate impact on a suspect class.”
I’m not going to touch the political necessity and value of teachers unions, but at the heart of these questions is: How do current layoff policies and procedures impact disadvantaged students disproportionately?
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
The term "poor schools" is as confounding as it is accurate. Literalists would claim that the expression describes schools that perform badly in terms of educating pupils, but that is only the half of it. And the grotesque word "disproportionately" appears here too, adding to my consternation. I understand that people are not equal, but schools? Isn't there a law against unequal schools or is this condition just another of the tolerated disproportions?
@rhylton Mario clearly defined "poor" schools as those having a high % of low-income students. I'm also not sure why you think "disproportionately" is grotesque. It seems like the most accurate, concise term for the effect being described. It's not a euphemism or anything. No, there's no law against having a large % of low-income students at any given school.
You have missed several points; regrets. I did say that Mario was accurate. Next, I dealt with what literalists would say, without including myself in their numbers. As for the meaning of disproportionately, context is everything. I find it grotesque when it, disproportion, is found in policing and in education.
What I have learned tells me is that the children of poor people get inferior everything, particularly teachers; the best,; the most experienced; the most seasoned of which go off to "more affluent" (apply any inappropriate euphemism of your choosing) schools.
Finally; please follow my example and acquaint yourself with the provisions of a law enacted in 2013. "The Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), is a significant and historic shift toward a simpler, more rational and equitable school finance system. The new law aims to improve outcomes by providing more resources to meet the education needs of low-income students." How or if it applies to this business is beyond my knowledge so I am off to reading all that I can about it.