By next school year, 2,100 Los Angeles teachers and another 400 support staff are expected to lose their jobs--a 5-percent hit to the nation's second-largest school district behind New York City.

Worse still, some observers say, is that the layoffs are concentrated in some of the city's grittiest neighborhoods. L.A. Unified's inner-city schools have higher turnover and tend to hire more new teachers, and the state education code mandates that layoffs be issued based on seniority.

"This is about civil rights and education for inner-city children," said longtime English teacher Sean Leys.

The National Education Association estimates that some 34,000 teaching jobs will...

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