Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Teacher Layoffs Every Year Make No Sense by Fred Klonsky


The news that CPS was laying off 443 teachers this week hit me in the gut as it always does.

As a young teacher I was a victim of Reduction in Force every year for the first four years of my teaching career. Nobody said I was a bad teacher. They just said I was fired.

For a young teacher the first years are brutal anyway. This pandemic year? I can’t even imagine. And then be hit with a RIF (Reduction in Force) Notice. Widget. Cog in a wheel. Thing. Nobody. 

CPS says that they have no choice since they don’t know what the enrollment will look like in the Fall. But they also say that they will likely add 2,000 positions when schools open. This is likely true. So the layoffs make no sense.

It is also likely that the teachers who are let go have no guarantees that they will be among the 2,000 who are rehired. And I can tell you that being told you will likely be called back doesn’t make the feeling of being fired less painful. It was painful even the fourth time they let me go. Only to call me back again in August.

What kind of system treats its employees this way? Who fires people every year knowing they will likely ask them to return. And then fires them again. Brings them back. And fires them again.

The teachers union leaders complain each year but they never seem to want to challenge the basic assumption. They’d rather try to make points in their continuing battle with the mayor. Everything I read says there is a teacher shortage. Enrollment in college teacher prep programs is down 22%. Senior teachers are retiring and there’s fewer new teachers in the pipeline to replace them.

Where is the incentive to enter the teaching profession? It’s certainly isn’t the salary or the Tier 2 pension reductions or a sense of stability or empowerment. The assumption that needs to be challenged by our union leaders is why are we laying off any teachers at all? 

I say keep them all and find a place for them to do what they are trained to do: teach! What’s the worst that could happen?  A group of kids would have two professionally trained educators in a classroom available to them instead of one?


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