Monday, March 14, 2011

Recent state action on teacher seniority and tenure

Teacher pay-tenure bill passed in Florida Senate,
TALLAHASSEE –– Split nearly along party lines, the Florida Senate voted to abolish teacher tenure and link pay raises to student advancement today.

Sen. Steve Wise, R-Jacksonville, a retired teacher who heads the Senate public education committee, said the schools need serious reform if Florida is to compete. He likened the provisions of his "pay for performance" bill to management of a baseball team, with .205 hitters making less than .300 batters.

NYC Weighs Seniority vs. Merit as Layoffs Loom, Education Week
The jobs of up to 4,600 teachers—about 6 percent of the city’s teaching force—as well as others in districts across the state, hang on the answers.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has said those cuts are necessary to plug a spending gap exacerbated by a proposed reduction of $1.4 billion in state aid to the city in the governor’s budget proposal for the 2012 fiscal year. And the mayor has urged the state legislature to allow the city to let go of teachers with “unsatisfactory” evaluation ratings before other teachers. State law currently requires layoffs by reverse seniority.

“What we’re looking for is an opportunity to lay off teachers based on merit now,” said Jessica Scaperotti, a spokeswoman for the mayor.

State Senate Passes Bill to End Last in, First Out for Teachers, WNYC News
In a win for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Republican-led state senate narrowly approved a bill that would end seniority protections for teachers in New York City. But its fate in the Assembly is far less certain.

The bill would do away with the so-called "last in, first out" (LIFO) rule that requires new teachers to be the first to go during layoffs regardless of merit. Seniority could no longer be the sole criteria. Instead, the city could eliminate teachers with unsatisfactory ratings and other performance issues. Mayor Bloomberg plans to layoff more than 4,600 teachers to close a budget gap. Another 1,500 positions would be lost through attrition.

Pressure Mounts To Ax Teacher Seniority Rules, NPR
Last week, the New York state Senate passed a bill that would end the use of seniority as the sole factor for deciding which teachers get laid off. The bill faces long odds in the state Assembly. But the vote is a sign of growing frustration with what's known as "last in, first out" — a rule that says the last teachers hired get dismissed first when there is a layoff.

Like local leaders around the country, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says he will soon have to lay off teachers because of shrinking state aid. He says he cannot have his hands tied by a system that judges teachers solely on their years of experience.
"We need a merit-based system for determining layoffs this spring," Bloomberg says. "And anything short of that is just not a solution to the problem we face."

States tangle with teacher tenure,
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has been especially outspoken on the issue, leading a handful of states that are seeking to eliminate teacher tenure completely.

“Teaching can no longer be the only profession where you have no rewards for excellence, and no consequences for failure,” Gov. Christie told crowds earlier this year. “Let New Jersey lead the way. The time to eliminate teacher tenure is now.”

Appellate court allows teacher layoffs to go forward under new rules, Los Angeles Times
Though the settlement shields some schools -- and reduces layoffs at others -- it also means that some campuses with veteran staffs could have layoffs for the first time, or more layoffs than under the old rules. And it means that teachers with more seniority could potentially lose jobs before teachers at other campuses with less seniority.

“Kids win,” said Mark Rosenbaum, chief counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, which sued the district along with Morrison & Foerster and the Public Counsel Law Center. With the backing of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, attorneys sued on behalf of students at three middle schools that were especially decimated by layoffs during a previous round of budget cuts.

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