Last Wednesday at the weekly waste of one hour of daylight known as the Teachers' Meeting at my wife's school the principal, Dr. Doolittle, announced that there would be a roughly 15% Reduction in Force (RIF, in this jargon-happy world) with notices going out Friday. They had to go out Friday, as this was the last day it could be done contractually. I suppose that was preferable to letting the anxiety build for weeks.
Lots of tears and anger on Friday from both teachers and students. Most of the RIFees had never gone through such a thing before--it's been a decade since it's been done en mass. (The teachers are not, at this point, actually laid off, which would entitle them to unemployment benefits over the summer. They're on hold for reassignment which could come at any time and send them anywhere they're qualified, assuming one turns up. Last time it happened to my wife she got a job two days after the school year began.)
It's the same story as any business facing large layoffs--the survivors' morale goes into the crapper same as the victims'. My wife will go from being one of two teachers in her specialty to having all four classes, meaning less time to work with students outside of class time, more time doing grades, solo responsibility for the student shows and contests. There'll be fewer teachers to do police work in the halls and the cafeteria, fewer on hand during the big state tests. The good news, of course, is that none of the children will be Left Behind.