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N.H. Teacher of the Year Nominee Laid Off


Last week, New Hampshire 8th grade teacher Christina Hamilton was nominated for state Teacher of the Year. Unfortunately, she was also laid off by her school.

Hamilton was notified on April 10th that her position, along with six others at Hampton Academy, would be eliminated due to the school’s proposed change from the middle school to junior high model, reports Seacoastonline.com. On Monday, she was one of 35 nominees honored at a Teacher of the Year ceremony held by the New Hampshire Department of Education.

Hamilton was actually not on the initial list of cuts at Hampton. However, after further review, the school board voted to rehire another teacher who had been in the district longer and informed Hamilton she would be dismissed.

"[The initial layoff choice] was an oversight by the decision makers," said Kevin Fleming, chairman of the teachers’ union. "Even though [Hamilton] is recognized as a candidate for Teacher of the Year, they have to go on seniority."

"I think the mistake underscores and highlights how hastily the decisions were made," remarked the president of the teachers’ union, Andy Gushee.

The union plans to challenge Hamilton’s layoff and several others, claiming that the district cannot justify the need for a reduction in force. School officials declined to comment, according to Seacoastonline.

Meanwhile, Hamilton is still in the running for the 2010 Teacher of the Year.

4/24/09 UPDATE: Following protests from hundreds of parents and teachers, the school board voted to recall the layoffs of five teachers at Hampton Academy, including Christina Hamilton, reports Seacoastonline.com.


It seems there should be another method in these tough times to determine who should go and who should stay. I would think a teacher who have gone far above her peers to be recognized as a teacher of the year, should be kept due to the tremendous contribution she has made to her students and to the school in which she teachers.

This is ridiculous.I understand that seniority is important but how do you fire (or layoff) a teacher who is nominated as the teacher of the year? We teachers get ridiculed enough for situations with the union and now we do this. It sends a message that even though she is the best teacher would better serve the students lets lay her off instead of finding some way to keep her.

Rule number one--education is about providing optimum learning opportunities for kids. Corollary to rule number one--education is NOT about providing employment opportunities for adults. I'm appalled, but not surprised, that the main criterion for choosing the second teacher is seniority and, implicitly, nothing needs be said about the quality of either teacher in terms of ability to provide the better learning environment for the students. This disturbing but all-too-familiar episode is a vivid example of the skewed illogical and too often detrimental processes that decision makers use in choosing and retaining teachers. Wake-up call, indeed--

The excuse that this school gives, "we had to go on senority" makes little sense. Experience is no measure of quality. There are many teachers who have been teaching for years, but in reality have been teaching poorly, and yet their seniority keeps them in the classroom harming student education. It is unfortunate that these "senior teachers" take up space that could be filled by far superior, "less experienced" teachers. Time to rethink how we do what we do!

I think the teaching profession is devalued when seniority trumps quality and energy. In my short time in education, I’ve experienced tenure teachers who are genuinely apathetic to the education of our youngsters, and are unwilling to share the classroom in collaborative team teaching. I work with a tenure teacher who sits atop of the desk and read to high school children each school day; she never moved away from that teaching practice. When I attempted to introduce technology and group work in the classroom, she became apprehensive and grabbed back the class, since the majority of the students are on her roster. Each day she reads to the class, the result is the same—the students fall asleep. She gets upset and besides herself because the kids are asleep during her reading. To be blatantly honest, the kids are not the only ones asleep; I sometimes dose off because the reading is monotonous and there are no group work or activity to get the class moving and thinking. I don’t support seniority as the sole determined factor in whether a teacher goes or stay; there as to be others.

Teachers can thank their unions for this asinine policy. Many new teachers are some of the best in their districts. They're fresh out of school with many new ideas and information. Too many times the older teachers who should retire hide behind their tenure and even teachers who aren't very good at what they do, 'teach' just to earn a paycheck, not because they enjoy what they do.
Wonder why the state of education is such a mess? Quality of today's teachers is one reason.

Do not be so dismissive of a teacher's classroom experience. In the nineteen years that I have been teaching, I have learned how to instruct a wide array of students with disabilities including autism, deafness, dsylexia, and even muscular dystrophy. Similarly, I have learned how to facilitate a wide variety of abilities and skill levels including Advanced Placement Composition/Language and Composition/Literature, ESL,and inclusion classes. Effective teaching is a complex, multi-facet art that requires constant learning and unlearning of skills. I am constantly learning how to upgrade my teaching skills, which includes how to meaningfully intergrate technology into my classroom so that a higher leavel of learning and understanding is achieved. Over the years, I have noticed that many brilliant teachers are so busy with planning lessons and helping their students that they are not participating in school politics. Why is there the assumption that the experienced teacher is somehow a less effective teacher than the N.H. Teacher of the Year? Most teachers of the year are not selected based upon actual classtoom performance and test scores. Often, they are selected based upon school district politics. What other profession has people claiming that a first year teacher is just as effective as an experienced teacher? How many people would chose a first year doctor or lawyer over an experienced doctor or lawyer? In the business community there are many more workers that have stagnant skills and apathetic job performance. In the United States, our physicians implement computer technology far less than their European counterparts-- and yet, how many people would select their doctor based upon computer skills alone? It is unfortunate that the New Hampshire Teacher of the Year was laid off. However, this story is anecdotal evidence and should not be considered an indictment against the entire public school system.

Seniority is being given as the reasoning--and yet, I find it hard to believe that it is the only item to hang this particular recommendation on. No information is given about the other teacher. Did she get teacher of the year in her past? Has she brought innovation to the classroom? It is a difficult situation for this particular teacher to be in, but certainly this article only serves to provide an incendiary perspective.

There's really not a more objective way than seniority at the present time to determine who gets placed on a RIF list. If there are issues of incompetence in the education of students in ANY building, then it is the fault of the administration in that building and or district for not doing what they can to move all teachers into the realm of best practices.... and if they don't move into that realm, it is still the duty of the administrators involved to see that there is proper resolution to the problem.

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Recent Comments

  • Pam: There's really not a more objective way than seniority at read more
  • Suezette: Seniority is being given as the reasoning--and yet, I find read more
  • erudite925: Do not be so dismissive of a teacher's classroom experience. read more
  • ajtmom: Teachers can thank their unions for this asinine policy. Many read more
  • Seniority devalues the teaching profession: I think the teaching profession is devalued when seniority trumps read more




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