Minnesota House Passes Bill On Teacher Layoffs

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Senate passed a bill Monday that would let schools lay off teachers based on their performance in the classroom rather than by seniority alone.

The bill passed by a 36-26 vote would let schools make layoffs based on evaluations that consider how well a teacher’s students perform. The state currently requires school districts to consider only teacher seniority in deciding layoffs, unless individual districts negotiate their own arrangements to consider other factors.

The bill’s lead sponsor, Sen. Pam Wolf, R-Spring Lake Park, said the legislation would allow schools to keep the most effective teachers.

“More matters than just when you sign the contract,” said Wolf, who teaches a range of grades at Pines School at the Anoka County Juvenile Center.

Several Democrats opposed the bill. They said a statewide teacher evaluation system now in the works needs more time to develop before layoff policies are changed. The new system would base about one-third of a teacher evaluation on student test results.

“This challenge that we gave the education community to come up with an evaluation system … it’s one of the most difficult challenges we’ve ever laid on them,” Sen. LeRoy Stumpf, DFL-Plummer, said.

Wolf’s bill would have new evaluations begin by the 2014-15 school year, with the new layoff policies starting for the 2016-17 school year.

Other Democrats were worried that the evaluations could be abused by administrators intent on laying off teachers because of personality or because they are higher-paid.

“Even if the bill says you can’t (lay off) based on their salary, they’ll figure out a way to make senior teachers ‘ineffective’ and lay them off,” said Sen. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm.

Tom Dooher, president of Education Minnesota, a union of 70,000 public school educators, said there is already a process in place to evaluate teachers and get rid of ineffective ones.

“I think this bill is confusing layoffs with ineffectiveness,” Dooher said. “We shouldn’t have to wait for layoffs to get rid of ineffective teachers. If there are ineffective teachers, they are pathways to get rid of them. This bill is jumbling those two things together and not serving students by doing so.”

According to Education Minnesota, 40 percent of Minnesota’s school districts— accounting for 60 percent of teachers — have negotiated local arrangements that are not based solely on seniority.

The House passed similar legislation earlier this month. The House version would allow for teachers still in a probationary period —usually the first three years — to be laid off first. But the Senate version would consider these teachers with all other teachers in weighted layoff decisions.

The two bills go to a conference committee to have differences worked out. Gov. Mark Dayton, a former teacher, has not said if he would sign or veto the bill.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Kevin

    I LOVE THE GOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GO BOYS GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • G Dog


    When you have a vasectomy, do you want a surgeon who has performed 500 procedures, or one who has done 3?

    I’ve never done one, but if you want someone with little or no experience, please call me and I’ll bring my Stihl chainsaw over to your house (yes, a house call) and give it a try.

    “Cuz experience, to you apparently, means nothing.

    • GH

      Just because they have taught for 20 years doesn’t mean they are good at what they do. Every job that isn’t union is based on performance. If you can’t cook, you’re fired. If you can’t cut hair, you’re fired! Why would we continue to let people who can’t teach keep their jobs. Our children today are stupid and it’s a mixture of bad teachers and bad parents.

      • Citizen

        GH – I’m not going to agree with you that our children are stupid. Some are stupid, A LOT MORE are very intelligent.

        However, you are correct. We should be retaining the best teachers, not the most tenured. Schools exists to educate our children. They do not exist to guarantee employment for teachers. Keep the good teachers, and weed out the bad teachers. This will not solve all of the problems with today’s education system, but it’s a huge step in the right direction.

      • Paul Solinger

        Our children today are stupid? Perhaps in your family.

        Your one paragraph diatribe is filled with lies, myths, and right wing talking points. A union is in placed to protect workers from being unfairly fired and to negotiate reasonable wages and benefits.

        • Citizen

          You say “a union is in place to protect workers from being unfairly fired.” Okay, I’m for that. But what is fair? Firing a teacher because they’ve worked the job for the least amount of time? Or, being fired because of poor job performance? Schools exist to educate our children. With that as the driving force, I submit the fair thing to do is to retain the best performing teachers rather than the longest serving teachers. Yes, who is the best performing teacher may be a subjective call, but it is still what’s best for our children.

    • Sven

      The one that has the highest percentage of successful procedures.

      The best one.

    • Mr. Fertile

      I’d go with the one who has done three of them well versus 500 with no investment or concern that they even work.

  • G Dog

    Bad parents. But the political parties are scared to hold them responsible.

    Is it your dentist’s fault when you have 6 cavities?

    • GH

      No, but it is the dentist’s fault if they say they can fix your teeth and you walk out of the office with none.
      Teachers that do a good job have nothing to worry about here. In fact, they should want this to get rid of the dead weight in their schools that holds everyone back

      • shwiehl

        That’s such a simplistic answer. Nothing is that simple, especially not educating human beings. If it were, we would have figured this out long ago. The thing is, the teacher you might love, someone else hates. The teacher who is effective with your child, may be completely ineffective with mine. Who decides? The school board? God help us; they are mostly just trying to keep their taxes low. The principle? News flash: they really don’t want to decide. They would rather just have seniority rule the day because they know it creates less tension and causes less stress on their staff as a whole. That’s just reality.

    • tan pup

      No, it’s the candy companies fault for not having a warning label on the package. LOL

  • chuck

    But, Hey, As teachers, let’s be careful not to fail, kick out of class, disipline the child of the Pirncipal, school board chairman, or the town mayor. They will have a way to have a say into your evaluation. Let’s remember why tenure started in the first place. Anyone who did not do what the school board or anyone they listened to failed to keep a job. Remember, it is a lot different working with children than being on a job somewhere where you do not deal with the kids of the bosses!!!!!

  • Paul Solinger

    I”m really glad that the Republicans majority are dealing with the issues that affect all of our lives. My goodness, I won’t be able to sleep at night know that teachers can have tenure and seniority. That will sure help create jobs and pay the bills.

    November can’t come soon enough.

  • tan pup

    OK, I will agree with this WE can start firing all those NON UNION people who suck off the tax dollars – called politicians. I love how no one screams about all the cash that goes out to these idiots who claim to have the state in their best interest. Just remember, these are the same people who have never worked one single day, in any of these union jobs – especially TEACHING!

  • Brett

    I’d give up this effort, if the spineless governor would sign a DEATH PENALTY BILL for 1st degree murder. Maybe the Legislature and the Gov can “compromise”, and get two things fixed at once.

  • Brett

    Why the governor continues to defend murderers AND ineffective teachers is beyond me. Does he really think that MOST Minnesotans approve of this?

  • Dennis the Menace

    …I can remember how as kids we drove substitute teacher nuts, know the kids will have control over the full time teachers who will have no security.

  • Observer

    Remember when teachers, city, county, state and federal employees crashed the stock market, or when public employees wiped out half of everybody’s 401Ks, took trillions in TARP money, spilled oil in the Gulf of Mexico, gave themselves billions in bonuses, moved most of the good paying private jobs overseas and paid no taxes? Yeah, me neither. Why are we allowing the conservatives to divide and conquer us taxpayers/voters/citizens over these social issues? Where is the Minnesota legislature’s (conservative majority) focus on economic developments, jobs, and fiscal responsibility?

    • Bubba

      Observer, love your humor, it’s wasted on the neo-cons on this site, but I loved it.

  • shwiehl

    You all are assuming that principles are operating under the philosophy that they want to get rid of the least effective teachers. That isn’t always how it works. It’s based on who they know, who they have personal relationships with, and who is the cheapest. it’s such a simplistic “fix” to a complex system. As a teacher, I don’t ever want my kids to have a new teacher, especially in elementary school. Experience means a lot, just as in all other professions.

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