The Minnesota House of Representatives and the Minnesota Senate have passed bills that would base teacher layoffs, when necessary, on performance rather than seniority. Assuming that the reconciliation process to come stays true to the intent of the legislation, the governor should sign it.
Currently, except in districts that have expressly decided otherwise, experience is the deciding factor when schools have to cut teacher jobs. Experience is a good thing, but it’s only one of the variables that influence whether a teacher — or anybody in any job, for that matter — is effective. The last-in, first-out rule is indiscriminate; it takes no account of talent or skill or performance or classroom results.
So it has to go.
Objections to the legislation, a version of which passed the state Senate on Monday, follow a predictable pattern: It’s “just another attack on collective bargaining rights,” said Sen. Barb Goodwin, DFL-Columbia Heights, according to our news report. “We’re arguing about who we’re going to lay off instead of questioning why we’re laying off teachers,” said Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville. “We need our lawmakers focused on real solutions for real issues in Minnesota, not following the playbook of out-of-state groups,” said Education Minnesota President Tom Dooher.
Generalities, all, and all beside the point, which is to re-skew a skewed system in ways that ultimately favor students.
As Sen. Pam Wolf, R-Spring Lake, a teacher and sponsor of the bill, said, the Senate bill isn’t about addressing all that ails education. Rather it’s about how Minnesota schools prioritize who is let go when letting go is necessary.
It’s not an attack on collective bargaining. It’s not an attack on teachers.
And it’s not the one act that will save the day. But, over time, it will help.
—St. Paul Pioneer Press