The high school principal, voice shaky, eyes glimmering with tears, stood behind the podium. Letting bad teachers go was part of her job, she explained, the next words scraping against her throat. Letting good teachers go was just…painful. I sat in the front row, scribbling notes into a pad, asking questions about procedure and policy, safe in the detachment instilled by two decades as a journalist. I had been here before. I’d covered teacher strikes and school layoffs. I’d interviewed dozens of people who lost their jobs and had to remake their lives. I’d even survived furloughs and buyouts at several newspapers. This announcement, that a school district facing a serious budget gap would not renew the contracts of about 350 teachers on a first-year probationary contract, might have been just another assignment.