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Is work productivity over at age 60?

Updated on July 29, 2013

The big 6 0

It is against the law to discriminate based on age. Unfortunately, the laws don’t stop employers from discriminating any more than gun laws stop people from killing other people. In the past employers found sophisticated ways to get around discrimination laws. Today many employers, especially school administrators, make overt statements about the ability and perceived limitations of employees they deem to be “washed up.” I chose to narrow the focus, for the purposes of this Hub, to teachers.

Federal laws against age discrimination

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects certain applicants and employees 40 years of age and older from discrimination on the basis of age in hiring, promotion, discharge, compensation, or terms, conditions or privileges of employment. The ADEA is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The Age Discrimination Act of 1975 prohibits discrimination on the basis of age in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. The Act, which applies to all ages, permits the use of certain age distinctions and factors other than age that meet the Act's requirements. The Age Discrimination Act is enforced by the Civil Rights Center.

Section 188 of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) prohibits discrimination against applicants, employees and participants in WIA Title I-financially assisted programs and activities, and programs that are part of the One-Stop system, on the ground of age.


There are age discrimination laws

Education crisis in public schools

The education crisis of the late twentieth century saw a decrease in literacy and the high school graduation rate, an increase in unemployment and job seekers with no job skills, and a myriad of education-related problems that impact our country both socially and economically. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) was intended to improve individual student learning. The Act supports standards-based education reform through the setting of high standards and establishment of measureable goals. With NCLB came the concept of “highly qualified teacher.” NCLB requires that teachers be highly qualified and credentialed in the subjects they teach. NCLB does not include age as a criterion for designation as “highly qualified.”

How do looks affect the learning environment

Contention and divisiveness

NCLB requires constant testing to show progress students are making in core classes. Teaching students to “pass the test” is a daunting and divisive task. The current financial crisis has added nastiness to the objective of passing the test. The shortage of funds requires that we accomplish the same objective with fewer teachers. New teachers are shown the revolving door on one end and elderly teachers are forced out on the other end. This causes distrust and fear among teachers and kills morale. This is the environment in which we are to improve individual student learning. The system of identifying which teachers to keep and which teachers to get rid depends on the character of those making the decisions. Many people making the decisions do not make them in the best interest of the students but pursue their own personal agendas.

A few myths about older teachers

  1. Older teachers use the same old boring methods each year.
  2. Less senior teachers who put in more effort than older teacher are laid off.
  3. Older teachers are unable to manage a classroom.
  4. Older teachers have old fashioned values.

In urban families grandparents play a key role in raising their grandchildren. Many of my students tell me I remind them of their grandmothers when I advise them on how to handle conflict and personal issues.


10 qualities of an effective teacher

Beyond education and licensure, more is needed to be an effective teacher. Most people would agree on these basic qualities. Unless one has medical issues, age does not diminish a teacher’s ability to be effective. Effective teachers

  1. Loves to teach
  2. Demonstrates a caring attitude
  3. Can relate to their students
  4. Is willing to think outside the box
  5. Is a good communicator
  6. Is proactive rather than reactive
  7. Works to be better
  8. Uses a variety of media in their lessons
  9. Challenges their students
  10. Understands the content that they teach and knows how to explain that content in a manner that their students understand


If you feel you are a target of age discrimination

Discrimination laws can work if the circumstanaces are properly documented. In order to document ongoing discrimination:

  1. Understand your employment contract, each section and each word.
  2. Keep copious notes: dates, times, names, nature of contact and other pertinent information;
  3. Request written clarification of performance requirements and alleged deficiencies. If written clarification is not provided, write an email documenting your understanding of what is required;
  4. Write emails requesting resources and assistance;
  5. Use Outlook to post dates and communication;
  6. Get advice and assistance from your union representative; and
  7. Keep a backup copy of copious notes.

Age discrimination shows a lack of respect for, and possible disdain for, the elderly. The poetic justice here is that everyone who lives long enough will get old. My suggestions may sound like paranoia but make sense when you are subjected to discrimination.

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Is work productivity over at age 60

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    • dianetrotter profile image

      G. Diane Nelson Trotter 4 years ago from Fontana

      Thank you Express10! I say to them like my dad said to me, "Just live long enough!"

    • Express10 profile image

      H C Palting 4 years ago from East Coast

      I think a person's productivity is over not at a certain age but when they wish it to be so. There are people that are productive into their 80's and 90's. I think it's terrible that there are older people being discriminated against because of their age these days. In a variety of fields, those over 60 that are looking for work will not get a fair shake and those that are employed may have to contend with employers wanting to can them just to save the company money and pile more work onto others.

    • dianetrotter profile image

      G. Diane Nelson Trotter 4 years ago from Fontana

      Thank you for reading and your grandfather's testament Car! I have a friend who retired from teaching at 65. She is in her 80s and still reports to work every day. She plans the programs and does bulletin boards.

    • CarNoobz profile image

      CarNoobz 4 years ago from USA

      My grandfather was a hard worker right up into his 90s. He could barely see, but that didn't stop him from harvesting veggies and fruits in his garden every day.

      I want to be like that...if I even live as long as he did.

    • dianetrotter profile image

      G. Diane Nelson Trotter 4 years ago from Fontana

      Your are so kind Eric. No I have not retired but I am being pressured by administration. I have the love and support of my students and their parents. Today I had to represent a parent in class. A colleague/teacher sent a student to me who was behaving poorly. I walked back to the classroom with her and talked her through her behavior. She was humbled when we walked in the classroom. The student corrected her behavior. Teachers are often parents and grandparents to students.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Diane, please forgive me that I did not respond sooner.

      You Retire!? I think you mean change directions. You are a scrapper and you have a heart. Personally I need folks like you to do what you are doing. You are at the reasonable age to be President of the United States. You should be passionate and self driven and damn well make things work for you.

      My world needs you to be all that you can be, and at a certain time that means stepping aside from the jobs that are all younger folk can do and set your standards at being the best you, you can be. I treasure you, now go make others feel likewise.

    • dianetrotter profile image

      G. Diane Nelson Trotter 4 years ago from Fontana

      Masculist, you are so right ... discrimination is hard to prove. That is why it is necessary to document everything if you feel you are being discriminated against. It is really difficult to discuss without case studies. The laws were made for good reason.

    • MasculistFeminist profile image

      Ryan 4 years ago from Australia

      I think the key principle here is that everyone should have the right to be considered for work solely on the necessary requirements to do that work. Unless age is a factor that can be proven to make a candidate unfit to successfully perform a job, it should not be a factor in the recruitment and selection process (formally or informally). Not only does that make moral sense, but it makes economic sense as well. If age is irrelevant and that precludes a person getting employed, then that is age discrimination and it is illegal (at least in Australia). Of course proving that discrimination actually took place is another thing entirely...

      I agree with Eric that no one has a right to a job (meaning you are automatically entitled to one). We all must prove our competency and merit for a job. However people are entitled to a fair and reasonable chance to gain employment. What is fair and reasonable? A recruitment and selection process where candidates are judged solely on criteria that is required to successfully perform a job. Irrelevant criteria like age (in virtually every case) should be excluded.

    • dianetrotter profile image

      G. Diane Nelson Trotter 4 years ago from Fontana

      I don't know if I understand your comment Eric. Everyone has a right to work. That is a reasonable entitlement. Go to school, get the degree, get the job. In my case, I have had the job for 20 years. Now I'm told I don't use technology. I use more technology than the one who told me I need to use it. I use Schooltube, Facebook, YouTube, LCD projects/powerpoints, audio/visual equipment. I have yet to get a specific response as to what technology I need to use.

      Eric would you rather I retire even though I don't make enough money to retire. I will certainly need assistance then. Can I depend on your benevolence?

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Diane, in fact I have never "had" to work. And I have never had to get government assistance except the schooling they provide. I was declared an emancipated at age 17. I have been privileged to make a living in this great country and a few others.

      But the attitude you showed in your comment is the heart of the problem: Entitlement. Because someone is old does not mean they have a right to a job.

    • dianetrotter profile image

      G. Diane Nelson Trotter 4 years ago from Fontana

      Hi Eric, I'll bet you are one of those rich people who didn't have to work. I used "60" because I saw it on a blog. The anti-discrimination laws were written to include people "over 40." Is a 41 year old considered over the hill?

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      How sad the reality is. I wish it were not so. I fear however that often people at age 60 act old. I look around and see 50 year colds acting old. That is a choice that can be self inflicted.

    • dianetrotter profile image

      G. Diane Nelson Trotter 4 years ago from Fontana

      Thank you NayNay! I don't know if it is intimidation or inadequacy but some younger managers are vicious in their attempts to rid the educational system of older teachers.

    • NayNay2124 profile image

      NayNay2124 4 years ago

      dianetrotter, this is a very relevant subject. age discrimination happens more often than people realize. Employers should realize that older workers can bring wisdom, experience and reliability to the workplace. Those qualities are hard to find in some younger workers. Good hub. Voted up and useful.