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Excessive layoffs contribute to high teacher turnover
Write-in "Doug Mann" for School Board
Another Option for Minneapolis School Board Voters (2004 General Election)
by Doug Mann, 29 Oct 2004, Submitted to the Star-Tribune for publication 28 Oct 2004

What can be done to reduce overexposure of students to inexperienced teachers?
by Doug Mann, 24 August 2004

The district has been laying off more teachers than necessary due to falling enrollment and revenue. For example, this year the district laid off 608 teachers, but only cut 210 positions (net). (see footnote 1) How many teachers turn down offers of reemployment in late summer, early fall after being laid off in the spring?

Teachers who are laid off by the district may seek and accept employment as a teacher with another school district.  The teacher tenure act requires teachers to notify the district of their intent to resign / retire at the end of the school year by April 1, unless a teacher can show good cause for giving later notice, such as  employer harrassment, onset of a disabling condition, etc.  

In 2003-04 the district had fewer than 1700 teachers positions in regular and Special Ed programs. And
despite the elimination of 353 full-time teacher positions in regular education programs since the fall of 2001, the district had 455 probationary teachers as of April 1, 2004.

The district lost more than 808 teachers from 2001-02 to 2003-04 (just two years). Some who looked for and accepted employment as a teacher with another school district after being laid off without necessity.

The district has the information and forecasting experience needed to make a fairly accurate prediction of student enrollment for the next academic year before April 1.   

A motive for the district to lay off an excessive number of teachers is that doing so creates openings for new, low-paid teachers. And those new, low-paid teachers are generally assigned to schools for low-income neighborhoods. The districts better schools are getting a hidden financial subsidy through the assignment of high-paid teachers (which isn't reflected in individual school budgets).

Students in high-poverty / high minority schools are generally overexposed to inexperienced teachers, which accounts for a large part of the test score gap between students in high- and low-poverty / minority schools.  If the school board was really committed to closing the gap and improving the overall quality of instruction in the district's schools, the board would:

Stop excessive teacher layoffs.
Distribute probationary teachers equally throughout the district.

Footnotes:

1. The district eliminated 353 full-time K-12 teacher positions (regular education) from 2001-02 to 2003-04.
(1,663.2 positions in 2001-02 /// 1309.6 positions in 2003-04). The district's special Ed programs had 380.8 full-time positions in 2001-02, and 375.3 projected for 2004-05 (net loss of 5.5 positions) - Source: 2004-2005 budget available at June 29, 2004 school board meeting (link to a brief summary on this web site)

2. Of the 608 teachers laid off by the Minneapolis school district district between April 1, 2004 and June 30, 2004, there were 153 tenured teachers and 455 probationary teachers (hired during the past 3 years) - Source: August 10, 2004  MPS press release