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Teachers: layoff ≠ firing

March 8, 2011 pm31 9:16 pm

The ideas are simple –

layoff – there is not enough money, you are ‘let go’ until the situation improves, when you get called back to work

firing – something is wrong, and you are ‘let go’, permanently

In many jobs, including teaching in NYC, firing someone requires cause related to that individual’s activities or performance. Layoffs result from economic hard times, not cause. And in NYC schools, and in many other places, when layoffs are necessary they are conducted by reverse seniority, and callbacks are conducted by direct seniority.

In NYC, Bloomberg has been trying to modify how teachers are fired, to weaken protections. He has had some success, but he’s looking for much more.

With the budget shortfall he has seen opportunity, the way the rich often do when the rest of us are suffering. In this case he knows that he can declare a fiscal emergency and lay teachers off. But he wants to rewrite the layoff law to be a firing law, creating an end-run around teachers’ contractual protections.

Bloomberg has intentionally conflated lay-offs and firings. He has made clear that his layoffs would not result in callbacks when the budget improves. Isn’t that really firing?

Bloomberg and ERN talk about recruiting new teachers at the same time as “layoffs” are occurring. Isn’t that firing?

The Flanagan bill would terminate teachers, not lay them off. That’s firing.

The ERN ads use the word “layoff” but the language describes –  firings.

The NYC print media has been bad.

But here’s one to chew on:  In Providence, the mayor issued termination notices, not layoff notices, to all 2000 teachers. It was reported on NPR, where the story included this:

Providence’s new mayor Angel Taveras … says he chose terminations instead of layoffs because…

Clear? It’s clear to me. Should be clear to you.

But how come it got reported on Gotham Schools like this:

Providence’s mayor explains his decision to lay off all of his city’s teachers.

when NPR had it right?

8 Comments leave one →
  1. March 8, 2011 pm31 9:23 pm 9:23 pm

    I’m in Indiana where we’re facing our own attack on teachers (no, I’m not one)…honestly, I think this is simply an excuse to break up the power of the teachers’ union…and the ones who will be hurt the most are the children…very short sighted, unfair policies coming down…

  2. March 8, 2011 pm31 9:26 pm 9:26 pm

    Just to be clear, you don’t have to do anything wrong to be fired as a teacher; a principal can literally make charges up or else higher ups want to cover THEIR wrongdoing rather than admit they shafted a teacher. I am living proof of somebody who was wrongfully terminated.

    A lot of times “layoff” is used interchangeably with “fired,” and really, it’s very often the case fired workers can get unemployment insurance as long as they don’t commit “willful misconduct.”

  3. March 8, 2011 pm31 9:29 pm 9:29 pm

    You can also be laid off and never be called back to work because of the lack of work. It has nothing to do with “performance.” That isn’t a firing.

    Being laid off is job termination for which you didn’t do anything wrong; firing is job termination where somebody claims–often falsely–you have done something wrong, and when it comes to school districts, it’s often illegal.

  4. Chaz permalink
    March 8, 2011 pm31 10:56 pm 10:56 pm


    Take a look at my post and the language in it. You can see it is firings not layoffs.

  5. Burt permalink
    March 9, 2011 am31 4:55 am 4:55 am

    If you haven’t seen Jon Stewart on teachers. . .and Wall Street, got to watch it.

  6. Anonymous permalink
    March 10, 2011 pm31 8:34 pm 8:34 pm

    My question is this: for what reason am I paying Union Dues? The UFT is doing NOTHING, NOTHING to combat any of this! When are they going to step up to the plate??

  7. ade permalink
    March 11, 2011 pm31 10:02 pm 10:02 pm

    In actuality, what CAN the UFT do? They can mobilize support. They can educate the public. They can advertise. They seem to be doing this. But really, teachers need to be doing more to make their point. We need to be more vocal. More politically militant. We need a to organize a tea party-like groundswell to get our message across. We need to let our politicians know that we will not stop moving against them at the polls if they continue in this direction.

  8. March 12, 2011 am31 1:33 am 1:33 am

    I follow education news pretty closely, but had no idea that these firings were being so blatantly brushed off and masked by media semantics. This affects not only the teachers, but the students as well, as I have heard many comments from my YDE students about how certain teachers throughout their schooling experience have changed their world, and that without them they would not have had the motivation and encouragement to finish.

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