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Seniority-Neutral Policies. Seniority-based layoffs do not consider teacher effectiveness, meaning that teachers who make vital contributions to school success can nevertheless be among the first to receive pink slips. Urban districts should move to a seniority-neutral layoff policy and work to develop a fair performance-based evaluation system that would give principals and superintendents concrete performance criteria to make decisions about which teachers are let go.
Budget and Funding Transparency. Urban school districts should be required to provide accounting data at the school level and to use actual cost data, not district averages (which often mask huge variations in expenditures). This accounting method will promote the equitable distribution of general education funding and help ensure that the recommended additional funding for low-income students and English learners actually is used for those students.
Lisa Snell is director of education and child welfare at Reason Foundation.