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Indianapolis teachers advocate for imminent layoffs to be based on effectiveness

File: teachlogo.png

February 10, 2011

Indianapolis teachers advocate for imminent layoffs to be based on effectiveness

INDIANAPOLIS – A group of Indianapolis teachers today issued a policy brief warning about the negative impact of widespread teacher layoffs and reassignments under a plan likely to be carried out in the coming months.

The brief, written by Teach Plus and its Indianapolis Teaching Policy Fellows, focuses on seven Indianapolis Public Schools [IPS] middle and high schools identified for state intervention. These schools represent half of all secondary schools in the district. Schools entering state intervention may dismiss half or more of their teachers. However, the most senior dismissed teachers will have rights to other roles in IPS. The Teaching Policy Fellows are calling on state and district officials to ensure that teachers dismissed from these chronically low-performing schools not be allowed to bump less senior teachers out of their current roles. 

“Taking bold action to change the composition of the teaching force, while well-intentioned and essential to creating greater opportunities for Indianapolis students, risks further damaging schools that remain in IPS,” the Fellows wrote. “By current law, even as failing schools are removed from IPS jurisdiction, IPS would continue to be responsible for the teachers dismissed from these schools. The consequences for IPS secondary schools that have not been designated for state intervention will be dire.”

The Fellows report that state takeover of the seven schools will likely result in the displacement of one-quarter of all middle and high school teachers in the district (approximately 224 teachers).  Unless the state determines that IPS is not required to find the most experienced dismissed teachers positions in non-takeover schools, their re-distribution across the few remaining IPS secondary schools will have negative consequences for their current teachers and students. The policy brief highlights the particularly adverse affect on high-performing teachers with less seniority, who can be “bumped” from their positions by more senior teachers, with no regard for these teachers’ impact on student learning.

The authors note that the effects of mandatory re-staffing will not be limited to middle and high schools, given that current seniority rules allow more experienced teachers to displace more junior teachers from positions in elementary schools, particularly in art, music, and special education, even if the more senior teachers have never taught younger children.

“Our primary concern is the academic success of the more than 32,000 IPS students,” said Casey Patterson, Executive Director of Teach Plus Indianapolis.  “We cannot stand by and let an entire generation of talented, enthusiastic teaching professionals with strong results be dismissed from our classrooms simply because of the current quality-blind policies that do not put the needs of children first.”

The Fellows’ recommendations include a more equitable layoff and hiring process, based in part on the results of teacher evaluations, with the goal of selecting the most qualified candidate for every position. To download the full policy brief, visit

The policy brief was written by current teachers, ranging in experience from 3 to 10 years in the classroom, who work in takeover and non-takeover schools.

The 2009-2011 Indianapolis Teaching Policy Fellows:

Tina Ahlgren, T.C. Howe Community High School, IPS
Sheila Akinleye, Merle Sidener Gifted Academy, IPS
Darren Egbert, Key Learning Community, IPS
Maren Jennings, Decatur Middle School, Decatur Township
Peggy Larkin, Irvington Community Charter School
James Larson, Tindley Accelerated School, Charter
Lee Anne McKelvey, Indianapolis Lighthouse Charter
Rachel Nesbit, Lynwood Elementary School, Decatur Township. 
LaMeca Perkins, IPS School #74
Fatima Rich, Greenbriar Elementary School, Washington Township
Karen Smith, Garden City Elementary School, Wayne Township  
Abby Taylor, IPS School #39
Laura Yates, Monument Lighthouse Charter School
Sarah Zuckerman, Key Learning Community, IPS


Teach Plus is currently accepting applications for a new cohort of Indianapolis Teaching Policy Fellows.  For more information, please visit the Indianapolis Fellows page.

Teach Plus is a national non-profit that works to retain great teachers in the urban schools. The Teaching Policy Fellows program connects outstanding teachers to policy leaders with the goal of transforming the teaching profession to better reward, develop, and retain excellent teachers.  Teach Plus currently operates Teaching Policy Fellows programs in five major U.S. cities.

Contact: Casey Patterson
Teach Plus Indianapolis Executive Director