In California, today – the Ides of March – is Pink Slip Day. By state law, today is the deadline for school districts to notify teachers of their possible layoff for the 2011-12 school year, which begins in September.
Because they have to give such notice well in advance of knowing what their final budgets will be, district administrators tend to err on the side of caution, and send pink slips to the maximum number of employees. While this has a certain PR value to the California Teachers Association, union officers also recognize the disruptive effect the tentative notice has, particularly on new teachers, who are the most likely to be laid off.
It’s also bad public policy, since it gooses politicians to react to inflated numbers. Emily Alpert of the Voice of San Diego has done some stellar work on the topic, citing a report by Education Trust West, which states:
Our data reveal that of the 6,600 pink slips sent to teachers in three of California’s largest districts in March of 2010, 78 percent were rescinded by July 1. If this rescission rate is similar statewide, we can estimate that fewer than 5,000 jobs — of the 22,000 initially projected — were actually lost in 2010. And that estimate is likely to be on the high side.
Alpert found that Bill Freeman, president of the San Diego Education Association, also thinks it’s bad policy:
My concern is we’re alarming teachers. We’re alarming the community. And in some cases we’ll run teachers off. If they receive a pink slip and there’s a job somewhere else, that’s a bird in the hand. They are going to go there.
It’s an issue in many other states, and the early deadline isn’t providing a benefit to the public or the teachers themselves. During a time when there’s a fight over every aspect of education labor policy, this seems like one place for common ground.