Senate, House committee irons out differences in teacher layoff bill

/ 2 April 2012 / jennifer

Megan Boldt, Pioneer Press, April 2, 2012 –

A joint House-Senate committee has passed a plan that would end the practice of laying off teachers based on seniority rather than performance.

Rep. Carlos Mariani, DFL-St. Paul, cast the lone vote against it Monday, April 2. The only other Democratic member of the committee, Sen. Terri Bonoff of Minnetonka, joined Republicans to support it. The committee took varying House and Senate versions to create the compromise bill.

The move was no surprise. Republican legislators who want to end seniority-based teacher layoffs promised last week to push forward with their proposal, even though Gov. Mark Dayton has indicated he’ll veto it.

Dayton has said he’s concerned that the bill is tied to a new teacher-evaluation system that won’t be developed until 2014. He said he has no intention of signing the bill this session, especially because Republican lawmakers are pushing a raft of bills that are “anti-public education and anti-teacher.”

Sen. Pam Wolf, R-Andover, is a teacher and one of the bill’s chief sponsors. She said she could not disagree more with Dayton’s comments that ending seniority-based teacher layoffs is anti-teacher.

“Retaining teachers because they are effective is the best way to make teachers feel like they’re being recognized,” Wolf said. “I believe this is a step that’s not only better for our students, but our teachers as well.”

Proponents argue the practice of “last in, first out” hurts student achievement because they lose effective teachers and it forces more teachers to lose their jobs because districts have to let go of their least expensive teachers.

The bill now goes to the House and Senate floors for a vote.

Megan Boldt can be reached at 651-228-5495. Follow her at twitter.com/meganboldt.

http://www.twincities.com/politics/ci_20309266/joint-committee-irons-out-differences-house-senate-versions