"In the past realignment
has served to stabilize the desegregation schools (also referred to as "racially isolated") because realignment protects the
more junior elementary teachers, who tend to be at those schools, from layoff. That may be an advantage of realignment
but there are certainly disadvantages." - Emma Hixson, MPS Executive Director of Employee Relations, in a message forwarded
by Mary Brock to the MPS parents forum
Realignment was done to protect the jobs of elementary teachers on the low end
of the seniority list, including probationary teachers, but it is not a very effective method of stabilizing the teaching
staff in "racially isolated" schools. Student enrollment in elementary schools has declined substantially in elementary schools
for the past 9 years, especially in schools where students of color are over-represented. The realignment of senior teachers
created openings into which the junior teachers could bid. Some of those junior teachers obtained positions vacated by senior
teachers in schools with a traditionally stable teaching staff (that are not racially isolated). And some of the positions
vacated by senior teachers were in the same racially isolated schools.
Despite 9 consecutive years of substantial enrollment
declines in the elementary schools, the district has been hiring elementary school teachers. And the new hires are mostly
assigned to the "racially isolated" schools. The problem of high teacher turnover in the "racially isolated" schools persists,
and the realignment policy, if anything, has helped to make matters worse, not better. The district drives up district wide
teacher turnover rates by sending layoff notices to teachers who don't need to be laid off. Many find jobs as teachers in
other school districts.
Without the excessive layoff notices, and without realignment across licensure areas, what
would happen in the schools that are losing students and teaching positions? Teachers on the low end of the seniority list
would be "excised:" Some might be able to bid into jobs in other buildings / licensure areas. The rest would be laid off.
The district needs to take a closer and more serious look at why students are fleeing, or are being pushed out of
the district's schools. There have been changes in district's ability-grouping practices, attendance policies, discipline
policies, and transportation policy that have contributed to the enrollment decline. The district could make changes in these
areas that might help to turn enrollment loses into gains.