Update: Violet Nichols Another Reason Not To Focus On Ending LIFO
This week's much-discussed Washington Post story about the attempt to fire veteran teacher Violet Nichols (pictured) offers yet another reason reformers make a big mistake focusing much or all of their firepower on ending LIFO. For every laid off 28 or 35 year-old Teacher of the Year that they can find, someone else can find a competent-seeming middle- or upper-middle-aged teacher whose inadequacies as a teacher aren't so easy to prove and for whom the consequences of being let go are more than unfair, disheartening, or deeply inconvenient. No one wants to see middle-aged teachers moving in with their 20-something children, or going on welfare. It's an issue of bad optics as much as bad policy priorities. Adding value-added statistics to the mix isn't going to make the situation in cases like this any less murky for a while now. Plus which, Congress and the Obama folks have ensured that there haven't been massive teacher layoffs (yet), so it's increasingly hard for us to gin up lots of interest or sympathy for an issue that only has an effect when teachers are being let go.