Bruno: Pros And Cons Of "Mutual Matching"
beat me to the punch writing on the Oakland Unified School District's new "mutual matching" proposal for reassigning teachers so this is going to come across more as a counterpoint than I'd intended. I actually think he's right that it's basically an open secret in Oakland that the district is trying to undermine contractual seniority privileges in a way that should make teachers nervous. I also agree with John that seniority rights are a way of recognizing real value in veteran teachers and that mutual matching may do too much to push those veterans out of the classroom altogether. At the same time, though, I think it's easy to underestimate the disadvantages of the seniority status quo in OUSD.
Additionally, though the Jill Tucker article doesn't mention this, the district has also indicated that it is willing to begin averaging teacher costs across schools under a "mutual matching" scheme. Since OUSD currently has each school pay teacher salaries directly out of its site budget, this may be a valuable opportunity to remove some of the institutional biases against more-expensive veteran teachers that already exist in Oakland.
It's also worth considering that the existing research literature gives some reason to be optimistic that matching teachers more carefully with schools can improve teacher effectiveness and reduce turnover, in part because schools seem to be able to engage in the matching process in an informed way. The literature is too thin to draw firm conclusions, and community involvement is a particularly interesting wrinkle, but it's not obvious to me that "mutual matching" is more flawed, on balance, than the status quo.
For what it's worth, in Oakland's case my sense is that the union isn't interested in playing ball with the district on "mutual matching" so this is all moot. With traditional teacher contracts under attack all across the country, though, we're probably going to see many more proposals like this in the future. - PB (@MrPABruno)