Thursday, February 19, 2009

Ending "Bumping" in Providence Schools

So, Education commissioner orders Providence schools to end seniority bumping. This is, in the aggregate, probably for the best. It is tough to develop a school in Providence when all your new hires keep getting bumped out of the system when staffing is cut in the district or other disruptions occur. Instead of people working in a school they believe in, you get whoever sits in the chair when the music stops.

There are potential bad side effects and unintended (or intended?) consequences, particularly when it comes to shutting down failing schools. If when a school is closed or reconstituted the staff does not have the right to a job elsewhere in the district, that is a powerful disincentive to working in a low performing school. We may re-create NYC's ATR mess. Depending on how this is implemented, it could reinforce the tendency for kids with the highest needs to get the least effective teachers, and generally make teaching in low-income Providence neighborhood schools even less desirable than the suburbs, high performing charters, magnet-y programs, etc.

Still, bumping got pretty insane, so... perhaps this will be for the best. I'm at least relieved that this is not going to be a special measure reserved for certain schools. To be sure, this is not seen by the district administration as "punishment." OTOH, it would be curious to see what would happen if this actually worked and Providence was taken out of "corrective action" status and this order went out of effect. Would we return to status quo ante?


Anonymous said...

Is Providence facing systemwide cuts next year?

Will layoffs occur?

And are layoffs in reverse seniority order?


Tom Hoffman said...


I don't really know exactly how this is going to play out -- at this point I only know what is in the article. I believe in the past layoffs would be made based on staffing needs, and if a senior person's position was eliminated, the bumping sequence would eventually spit out the least senior person.

I could guess from the wording of the article how it might work now, but it wouldn't be much more than a guess, and I suspect things may change somewhat between conception and implementation.