The Disproportionate Impact of Seniority-Based Layoffs on Poor, Minority Students

Cristina Sepe and Marguerite Roza via a Deb Britt email:

K-12 school districts that lay off teachers by seniority, a policy known as “last in, first out,” disproportionately affect the programs and students in their poorer and more minority schools than in their wealthier, less minority counterparts.
Looking at the 15 largest districts in California, researchers at the Center on Reinventing Public Education found that teachers at risk of layoffs are indeed concentrated in schools with more poor and minority students.
In these districts, if seniority-based layoffs are applied for teachers with up to two years’ experience, highest-poverty schools would lose some 30 percent more teachers than wealthier schools, and highest-minority schools would lose 60 percent more teachers than would schools with the fewest minority students.

Complete report: 354K PDF.

One thought on “The Disproportionate Impact of Seniority-Based Layoffs on Poor, Minority Students”

  1. The title of this paper and entry is inaccurate. The paper does state a reasonable hypothesis that LIFO hiring/layoffs will have a disproportionate impact on poor, minority students, but it doesn’t attempt to confirm that hypothesis and doesn’t conclude that the disproportionate impact occurs.
    The paper consistently uses “if”, “may” in describing the possible effects.
    In addition, arguments and efforts have been made in some quarters to place more experienced (better? more senior?) teachers in poorer, minority schools to give the students the benefit of more expertise. To what extent has that been successful? As the effort becomes more successful, the effect of LIFO, to the extent it exists, will be smaller.
    In any case, another source of variation is the turnover of teachers at poor and minority schools which has often been cited as a problem. If this is true, to what extent is LIFO an important explanatory factor as compared to this “natural” turnover? The paper does not address this other source of variation.

Comments are closed.