November 2011

The role of seniority in teacher layoffs is a perennial subject of intense debate, with different states taking sharply differing approaches: some have ended layoff policies based only on seniority, while others prohibit districts from considering any factor other than seniority. This policy brief from the Annenberg Institute's Center for Education Organizing (CEO) examines the history and intent of seniority rules and some of the underlying issues being raised in the current debate. The CEO believes that addressing seniority rules is part of the picture. But the narrow focus on seniority and bargaining rights diverts attention from the need for broader changes and investments to support high-quality teaching and the equitable distribution of a district’s best educators.