Teacher layoff bill unacceptable

Despite heavy opposition from across the aisle, the Republican-dominated Minnesota House passed legislation last week requiring teacher effectiveness to be taken into account when laying off educators. The bill advocates for ending the current “last in, first out” seniority-based method used during teacher layoffs.

Opponents of the measure contend the costs of instating such policies will outweigh the benefits and the state has no place getting involved with collective bargaining between school districts and unions. Others have argued that this measure is just one more way to delegitimize and disenfranchise teachers.

We feel that this current debate misses the point altogether. The most recent data show that teachers who leave the profession after resignation and retirement are a much larger demographic than those who are laid off. Moreover, over the past five years, layoffs have steadily decreased as the economy has improved and Minnesota has retained a budget surplus.

As Gov. Mark Dayton acknowledges, “a third of the teachers leave the profession in less than five years … the real issue we have in terms of the quality of education for our kids is about recruiting and retaining good teachers.”

All this comes without pointing out the fact that there are already specific teacher evaluation programs in place, such as the “Teacher Development and Evaluation” statute written in 2014.

Instead of instating a new law recommending exceptionally vague changes such as performance evaluations, perhaps it would be useful to question why this bill is being put forward in the first place.