House votes to jettison teacher seniority system
by Kim McGuire, Star Tribune
Opponents said the change would encourage districts
to lay off older, higher-paid teachers
”The Minnesota House voted Thursday to scrap teacher tenure in the state and replace it with a plan that gives administrators the authority to consider performance when making decisions about layoffs.
The 68-61 vote for the Republican-backed legislation sets up a State Capitol battle between teachers unions that want to protect the fundamental labor tenet of seniority and legislators who say it dilutes education quality by sometimes protecting bad teachers.
“Experience matters, but the number of years served is not an adequate measure of ability, competence and success in teaching kids,” said House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove. “We need to stand up for kids.”
The proposal comes at a time when a growing number of Minnesota schools are shedding teachers to accommodate dwindling budgets and when the state’s achievement gap shows no obvious sign of closing. Supporters said that’s why legislators should act quickly to back the plan.
Minnesota is one of about a dozen states that make seniority the only factor in layoffs. If the proposed legislation becomes law, the state would join about 18 others that have moved toward performance-based decisions over the past two years.
The measure approved Thursday also would take licensure and tenure into account.
Opponents of the tenure change argue that it would encourage districts to lay off older, more highly paid teachers.
They also worry that without state seniority protection, layoff decisions would be left to administrators who might make arbitrary decisions that play to favorites.
They also say it isn’t necessary to change the law.
About 40 percent of all state school districts have agreements with teachers unions that acknowledge factors other than just seniority, according to Education Minnesota, the statewide teachers union.
Those local contracts give school districts some flexibility, while bestowing some sense of security on good teachers, many of whom have several years of experience, union members have argued.
“It’s disappointing the House has passed this bill, which does nothing to address the real challenges facing our schools,” said Tom Dooher, executive director of Education Minnesota.
“But it will make it easier for districts to shed seasoned teachers for their less-experienced, less-expensive colleagues. This is not about student learning, it’s about budget cutting.”
Under the bill, sponsored by Rep. Branden Petersen, R-Andover, teachers rated as ineffective would lose their jobs first, from least senior to most senior within that category. But many teachers don’t always fall neatly within the categories spelled out in the legislation, argued Rep. Kory Kath, DFL-Owatonna, who is also a high school political science and economics teacher.
That’s why local school districts are in the best position to evaluate teachers, he said.
“And the elephant in the room that no one is really talking that much about is that this [Petersen's bill] does not affect probationary teachers,” Kath said. “And that is who is affected by the vast majority of layoffs now.”
It’s unclear whether Gov. Mark Dayton, a former teacher and union backer, would veto the legislation should it clear the Senate.
Some lawmakers said that — while they supported the intent of the legislation — it seemed counterproductive to spend a great deal of time debating its merits when a veto seemed likely.
Petersen described an earlier meeting with Dayton as “constructive” but wouldn’t speculate on whether the governor would ultimately support the plan.
The two plan to meet next week to discuss the bill, Petersen told colleagues in the House.
In a letter written to Petersen last week, Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius raised concerns about the plan and insinuated it might face an uphill battle in getting Dayton’s signature.
“The original continuing contract law, still in effect and in practice today, allows districts and teachers to negotiate their own process for layoffs that is appropriate to their local needs,” Cassellius wrote. “Governor Dayton and I believe negotiations are best conducted by the parties most directly impacted and fully informed about their own unique circumstances and needs, not state government.”
About 80 percent of Minnesotans agree that teacher effectiveness should be considered when making layoff and firing decisions, according to a recent survey by the Minnesota.”
It is a good move in a free society to remove the bovine security of teacher tenure laws……especially at a time when most university’s colleges of education preach the religion of Marxism as the word of god. Teachers might actually wake up and begin to learn and teach.
That is, unless the school administrators, too, are Marxists, whereupon, as at university, they believe it their religious duty to hire Marxists and only Marxists, to advance the State religion to ’guarantee’ institutional harmony to advance Marxism.
Some other reform must accompany the disappearance of teacher tenure.
I was a public school teacher for just over a decade in my first professional life. Although tenured, I was fired by the state’s largest school district, “for not filling out a form properly”. The school board had to back its administration, and contrived a vote of 4-3 to fire me even before the public hearing which was entitled to tenured teachers by state law.
Terribly embarrassed by the hearing at which 300 concerned citizens attended, the Administration was required to rehire me, but without tenure. I was transferred to another high school within the district, and before the next school year began, both administration, leftist fellow teachers, and my union told me the administration would fire me before Christmas. I lasted until February.
How could a teacher with an excellent record in and out of the classroom be fired for ‘not filling a form out properly’…..there must be some other sinister reason for such an august body as the Minneapolis Public School Administration to fire a teacher. There was another reason, but it had nothing to do with improprieties of any kind. I remind the confused, that not many high school teachers in the history of the State of Minnesota have been adjudicated by Judge in a court of law, to be an “outstanding” teacher. I was and mention this only to continue to clear my name.
I, at that time, a voting, believing Democrat, was fired by leftist functionaries in the school administration for political reasons based mostly on race.
I record this piece of history as a warning to all of those ‘dignitaries’ in American life who are concerned about the national and local quagmire of miseducation. Sometimes ‘good’ people do much more damage to human life that those considered ‘not as good’. I offer Barack Hussein Obama, our profoundly pompous but bigotted president who claims he is a good person .
Removing teacher tenure is the first step to rock the Marxist education boat. It cannot be the only step. There must be some protections for intellectual freedom in education and for its teachers in a free society…..not for kooky libertinism, or dictatorship Marxism, the enemies of civilized societies everywhere.
What is classically ’civilized’ can be examined and discerned. From study of history it seems to be best defined by JudeoChristian ideals and the ideals of like kind. Mayas and Aztecs practiced human sacrifice to do human good. A few Christian groups accepted slavery in a world where slavery was a widespread age-old business habit, which until the past two centuries was practiced nearly universally throughout the globe. Some Muslim cultures even in our 21st century still exercise slavery.
Ritual cannibalism has had its day in ‘civilized’ society in our human past and hopefully will not return.
In the collective of human knowledge, because of our western JUDEOCHRISTIAN past led by the concept of God it has taught, students of the subject can determine what is classic good, the good that is most consistently valued through the ‘recorded’ millenium. Now, the JudeoChristian traditions are under assault by atheistic Marxism.
Today’s narcissistic, sex oriented, anti-Christian culture established by the antiChristian Left champions Marxist secular bigotries and tolerance and anti-intellectual development, controlled by Government to secure Marxist ‘equality’.
What, however, in today’s black racist, gay and lesbian, feminist class-sex warfare, anti-American Marxist education system could ever protect a public high school teacher, whether of history, any social studies, even chemistry or botany, unprogrammed in the Marxist thought of the day from Washington or your more local Marxist state capital, from being fired or even imprisoned on a whim?
Almost the entire American Law Industry is already programmed into a Marxist brain. We select these bigots to be our Judges to interpret LAW as they learned law from their fellow Marxist peers in law school. Teachers become similar victims of programmed thought at university in a myriad of departments, especially in Colleges of Education.
Don’t let anyone convince you Marxism in American isn’t already well entrenched. It has already become the religion of America’s university campuses. Examine today’s Obama yourself. What did you think terrorist Bill Ayers, Obama’s closest associate in Chicago, did in his post-bomb producing career? He taught teachers to be Marxists openly.
I do think the open market is painful, but uplifting for us humans. Failure and recovery from failure is a constant human experience, a training without which we usually die young. A free society should invest in real recovery rather merely applying the Obama Marxist narcotics to quiet the anomie caused by a rapidly changing world.
The ultimate goal of Marxism is not to continue a revolution toward government elite rule over the know-nothings. History tells us this religion inevitably becomes a repressive reactionary dictatorship.
For teacher security and the best education the young of a modern free society can receive, ie, a top educational return based on learning the unknown, I believe, is to establish a local institutional base salary for beginning teachers at something like $40,000 per year of a three year contract (as an estimate), higher in those areas of more expensive living. That is not only the base salary, but THE salary for all beginning teachers hired. All teacher salaries are open for public examination.
School districts now can compete for the best and better teachers by offering higher than base salaries after a teacher has fulfilled his or her first three year contract. The teacher then can become a commercial product whose services can be bought on the open market. If the teacher wishes to remain in the same school district, he or she will negotiate a salary with that administration. This is theory for we don’t yet know for certain its future in practice; the least successful teacher-educators will be weeded out financially, since their salaries will generally remain the same every school year until further notice.
Teachers themselves as professionals should FIRE all teachers’ ‘labor’ unions as they now exist which make teachers act and appear as THUGS. Teachers would no doubt, develop some kind of a safety net for security needs when such a simple salary system is established in each state.
Today’s Marxists now in control of most of America’s cutural insitutions give power to minorities they politically favor.
Obama’s Marxist government in apparent ’peaceful’ Marxist form, governs by buying votes with government favors……a government which daily attacks and abuses the Law of the Land, the Federal Constitution!
How can freedom exist when Government becomes large enough to control and dictate whatever is to be thought and taught primarily for its own political advantage to gain ultimate power?
Eliminating the U. S. Department of Education IS NOT THE SECOND STEP…..IT SHOULDN’T EVER BE A STEP. America does have a national interest in its educational present and future. That interest is already inferred by the Constitution as is presently stated. Its function should be to elevate learning to expose the unknown.
In my day as a student in a municipal public school system, Iwas told by my well educated old maid school teachers there were two glorious reasons I had to become learned…….”to become closer to God, for God knows all”, and “to become an ever better informed voter, to strengthen American democracy.”
I bought it…..as we used to say in fishing terms….’hook, line, and sinker.” …..and always shall until my last breath.