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February 22, 2011


Also, seniority is cheap to implement, which is particularly relevant in the years you aren't laying people off.

...but of course "objectivity" is the problem, after all: the Cuomo quote strikes me as a good indication why nothing is going to change anytime soon (not to mention why Cuomo, in his mealy mouthed way, manages to say bland things that appeal to next to no one).

Having worked in human resources and seen hard choices in personnel management, seniority is a big part of any discussion mostly because of two things: institutional memory and acquisition of skills. Both, in some ways, are overrated - skills can be learned, institutional memory isn't necessarily improving a business. Teachers do learn things over time in a classroom setting. They can become better teachers. They can also get worse.

Seniority, as a standard, isn't objective. It's subjectively assuming that time spent in a job is the most important criteria, irrespective of others. And it seems to me unions like this idea because, in large part, power accrues over time. Politicians like it because experience is assumed to improve excellence (and because it feels a lot like incumbency). But a pure seniority standard, most of all, says we don't trust administrators - principals and school boards - to do the work of figuring out who contributes the best work, in and out of the classroom. That, I think, is a good indication of the real problem Americans have with teachers' unions: there's a sense in which the union uses its clout most to be as unsupervised as possible. LIFO isn't objective; it's a system which strips your boss of the kind of subjective criteria which would suggest, well, supervision. The complication, really, is the nature of public, government run education, which suggests that should be some sort of distant "objective" way to think about job evaluations, when, really, subjective, more human assessments would probably yield better results - better for the worker, better for the product (teaching), and better for the consumer (students and parents and a community at large). "Objectivity" then, is a false goal... and like so many strange, false goals in our education debate, it's really the problem, not the solution.

Really nice, Teachers do learn things over time in a classroom setting. They can become better teachers. They can also get worse.Thanks

LIFO is not a measure of success on the job but a measurement of time, exclusively. Corporations have been better at separating time in the organization (seniority) and abilities (title/salary). Seniority translates to "entitlement". As an extreme example, he entitlement mentality of Greece's government and population nearly wiped out Greece's economy.

Its hard to justify something-for-nothing. This is something-linked-to-the-passage-of-time-and-not-getting-fired. Why aren't other jobs like this? Because it isn't sustainable with scarce resources. This is why companies had to give up this approach decades ago. Education needs to be managed differently than companies, but the principle of tenure needs to change. We can no longer afford the inefficiency and ineffectiveness that entitlement brings to our country.

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