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Klein Puts the Kibosh on Out-System Hiring

From Guest Blogger Liana Heitin

In an effort to trim the budget and avoid layoffs, New York City schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein placed a ban on hiring teachers from outside the school system, reports The New York Times. Instead, principals must hire from within the teacher reserve pool—a group of 1,100 educators who have been kept on payrolls to be used as substitutes and temporary replacements after losing their permanent positions.

The reserve pool has been the subject of much discussion throughout the ebb and flow of New York’s hiring practices. Teachers end up in the pool most often because of school closings or downsizing, though a report by the New Teacher Project states that these teachers are six times as likely to have unsatisfactory evaluation ratings. Timothy Daly, the president of the New Teacher Project, explains that this is in part because the concentration of u-rated teachers increases over time as the highest-rated teachers in the pool get hired out more quickly. Teachers left in the pool can remain there—earning salary, benefits, and tenure—indefinitely.

The hiring ban raises concerns for principals, who may see the pool as a subpar sample of talent. Up to this point, Klein’s reform efforts have focused on teacher quality and encouraged principals to recruit and hire teachers who best fit the needs of their schools.

As Daly sees it, hiring from the reserve pool is a more sensible option than layoffs, which would necessarily be based on seniority, or forced placements. "Among the choices they have available, this is best,” he said. "Is this a good blanket policy? It would be better for kids and schools to be able to hire the best teachers every time."

The chancellor’s willingness to stray from his emphasis on free-reign hiring for quality is surprising, but indicates, above all else, the dire straits of the fiscal situation in New York.

Needless to say, the unions are happy that current teachers will remain employed and that the teacher reserve pool will be viewed as an essential resource. It will be interesting to see how AFT President Randi Weingarten balances her support of limited-pool hiring with her calls for "innovation" and reform, so stay tuned. . .

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