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Monday, December 6, 2010

Layoffs come to L.A. Schools and the losers are the poor minority children, the kids who need great teachers the most. We cannot save our Republic if we don't have an educated electorate.

When layoffs come to L.A. schools, performance doesn't count
After the budget ax fell, hundreds of the district's most promising new instructors were laid off. Campuses in poorer areas — such as Liechty Middle School in the Westlake neighborhood — were disproportionately hurt.


December 04, 2010|By Jason Felch, Jason Song and Doug Smith, Los Angeles Time

John H. Liechty Middle School opened in 2007 in Los Angeles' impoverished Westlake neighborhood with a seasoned principal, dozens of energetic young teachers and a mission to "reinvent education" in the nation's second-largest school district.  Click here to read more.

Whitney Tilson, a national education reform activist wrote in his newsletter regarding this article: The LA Times just published the best article/research I’ve read to date on the impact of layoffs purely by seniority (last hired, first fired), focusing on one school in LA, and the results are exactly what one would expect: such an utterly insane policy destroyed the promising turnaround at the school and has been DEVASTATING for the school’s poor and minority students (who else? This kind of sh*t doesn’t happen to wealthy or white kids):
But when budget cuts came in the summer of 2009 — at the end of the school's second year — more than half of the teachers were laid off. Among those dismissed were Gascon and 16 others who ranked in the top fifth of district middle school instructors in boosting test scores, The Times' analysis found. Many were replaced by a parade of less effective teachers, including many short-term substitutes.

By the end of the last school year, Liechty had plummeted from first to 61st — near the bottom among middle schools — in raising English scores and fallen out of the top 10 in boosting math scores.

"Everything we worked those two years to instill is gone," said Amanda Uy, a math and science teacher who was laid off and now teaches part time at a private school. "It's really tragic."

Quality-blind layoffs are just one vestige of seniority rules introduced decades ago to promote fairness and protect teachers from capricious administrators. Enshrined in state law and detailed in teachers' union contracts, the prerogatives of seniority continue to guide many of the key personnel decisions made in public schools across the country, including pay and assignments. The effects are most keenly felt by students during layoffs.

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Botched Paramilitary Police Raids: An Epidemic of "Isolated Incidents"

"If a widespread pattern of [knock-and-announce] violations were shown . . . there would be reason for grave concern." —Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, in Hudson v. Michigan, June 15, 2006. An interactive map of botched SWAT and paramilitary police raids, released in conjunction with the Cato policy paper "Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids," by Radley Balko. What does this map mean? How to use this map View Original Map and Database

Key

Death of an innocent. Death or injury of a police officer. Death of a nonviolent offender.
Raid on an innocent suspect. Other examples of paramilitary police excess. Unnecessary raids on doctors and sick people.
The proliferation of SWAT teams, police militarization, and the Drug War have given rise to a dramatic increase in the number of "no-knock" or "quick-knock" raids on suspected drug offenders. Because these raids are often conducted based on tips from notoriously unreliable confidential informants, police sometimes conduct SWAT-style raids on the wrong home, or on the homes of nonviolent, misdemeanor drug users. Such highly-volatile, overly confrontational tactics are bad enough when no one is hurt -- it's difficult to imagine the terror an innocent suspect or family faces when a SWAT team mistakenly breaks down their door in the middle of the night. But even more disturbing are the number of times such "wrong door" raids unnecessarily lead to the injury or death of suspects, bystanders, and police officers. Defenders of SWAT teams and paramilitary tactics say such incidents are isolated and rare. The map above aims to refute that notion.