How Much Discretion Should Management Have for Re Employment Decisions?
Commenting on the strike by Chicago teachers the New York Times in an editorial (September 12) observed: “The city (Chicago) rightly wants principals to determine which teachers are hired at a given school.”
While the issue of teacher evaluation has received the most attention, a bigger issue in systems undergoing restructuring is what weight to give seniority to teachers who need to look for new assignments because their school has been closed down or “resized”.
I know of a specific situation in Chicago where a teacher who asked for a transfer (as a temporary replacement for someone on maternity leave) to get away from a bad school situation, knowing he would lose seniority rights, yet not knowing that once the year was over, it would be impossible to be reemployed in the school system.
The contract protected him for one year while in limbo. During the course of this year he applied for at least 25 positions and in many cases had interviews with the principals where there were openings.
He gave up and entered a graduate program in history.
What was the explanation?
This individual with 15 years of seniority was at the top of a salary scale typical for teacher contracts that reward service and additional education. While most of the principals would not give any reasons for not offering employment, a few in effect said: “Why should I hire you when I can hire a young teacher at half your salary”.
Given the budget pressures that all school systems face today allowing principals to pick and choose from a pool of displaced teachers without regard to seniority could lead to considerable injustice and putting savings in the salary budgets ahead of retaining experienced teachers.
Robert B McKersie
MIT Sloan School
Sept. 13, 2012