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Denver Seeks to End Forced Teacher Placements

Denver, home of the ProComp pay system, "professional development" schools, and two teacher "residency" programs, is now trying to break ground on teacher assignments.

Superintendent Tom Boasberg has issued orders to end the policy of the forced placement of teachers who have been "excessed" into low-income schools, where records show they disproportionately land.

The teachers' union protests that force-placed teachers aren't necessarily ineffective and that this new policy amounts to a stigma of sorts on those teachers. Kim Ursetta, the former head of the local union, also offers this take on the situation.

On the other hand, a handful of these teachers have been "excessed" multiple years in a row, which means they're being passed from school to school.

Without details, it's hard to know exactly why this is the case, but it does bring to mind the "dance of the lemons." Because due process procedures can be so cumbersome, excessing is one strategy principals use to rid their buildings of ineffective teachers. They will claim a position or program has been reduced in that teacher's subject area, and then hire someone new later.

In any case, the really interesting subtext in Denver is that if teachers who are excessed time and time again aren't allowed to go to low-income schools, they'll be force-placed in more-affluent schools, typically ones with parental involvement that holds more political cachet. Are those parents going to stand for teachers who might not be up to snuff? Don't bet on it.

Also unclear is whether a move toward site-based hiring could result in an absent-teacher reserve pool, as in New York City.

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