California Now Into Fourth Year of Teacher Layoffs
Los Angeles Unified teacher Mike Newman sighed when he saw the now familiar certified letter in his mailbox last month — a pink slip, for the fourth year in a row.
“Here we go again,” said Newman, a 14-year classroom veteran who’s had his previous three layoffs rescinded and hopes for the same this year. “We keep thinking it’ll get better sooner or later, but it’s not.”
A new term is being bandied about in California schools these days — “the RIFing season,” which refers to the “reduction in force” letters notifying teachers they may be laid off at the end of the school year.
Some want the annual practice, which gives teachers advance notice that their jobs are in jeopardy depending on the outcome of the state budget debate, changed because it unnecessarily saps morale and incurs administrative expenses since most of those employees will not be laid off.
School districts sent out 20,000 warning notices in March — the fourth consecutive year of mass cuts due to continued state funding shortfalls, but if the past three years are anything to go by, roughly a quarter of those teachers will actually lose their jobs.
“This is a process that doesn’t need to be happening,” said Warren Fletcher, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, the teachers union for the Los Angeles Unified School District where 9,500 educators received layoff notices in March. “This is a quarter of our teachers. The district couldn’t operate without a quarter of its teachers. They never should’ve issued that number.”