Superintendent Thomas Brady and Mayor Angel Taveras have postponed by one week submission of a list of schools recommended for closure in 2011-12. The list will be announced on Monday, March 14, 2011. The decision to postpone reflects the seriousness of the process, the complex variables that must be considered before a school is closed, and a commitment to conduct school closures in a manner that produces the best outcomes for students and significant cost savings for the City. In addition, the administration is still in ongoing conversations with leadership at the Providence Teachers Union to discuss how teachers displaced by the closure will be terminated and how those unaffected will have their letters of dismissal rescinded. These are challenging decisions that cannot be made lightly or without adequate consideration.The second to last sentence points to a real challenge: who will stay, who will go, and how will that be determined? I ask the Mayor not to use seniority as the sole basis for continued employment. If the only criterion is seniority, the result will be bumping, which allows senior teachers to displace more junior teachers. This destroys the fabric of school communities and presents the prospect of disruption that our already stressed-out students can't afford.
I write this with great respect for our teachers with seniority in the system. We need their wisdom and experience. Seniority has a place in the hiring and retention process, but it cannot be the only factor.