Teacher Performance to Determine Layoffs

Districts will soon have to consider how well teachers teach when making layoff decisions

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In Romeo Public Schools, the teachers’ contract stipulates the last names on the seniority list are the first to get laid off.

In Ann Arbor Public Schools, if teachers scheduled to be laid off have the same level of seniority, the tie is broken by their Social Security numbers.

Public school unions have long bargained for the performance of the employee not to be a factor in who stays and who goes when layoffs come down.

But that will change with the new teacher tenure law that Gov. Rick Snyder recently signed into law.

Michael Van Beek, education policy director at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said now layoffs will have to be determined by “how well those teachers are performing based on their evaluations.”

Teacher effectiveness will have more of an impact than how long they’ve worked in the school.

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The old system was based on seniority, which was promoted by the unions.

“The union tells teachers, ‘Stick with us. Keep paying your dues. In the end, you will have the best job security,’” Van Beek said. “The whole system is based upon rewarding teachers who stay with the system, not necessarily improving student learning.”

Jim Ballard, executive director of the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals, said he supports the new performance-based evaluation when determining who gets laid off.

“Something new in the process — performance,” Ballard wrote in an email.

“How it is going to work is going to take a couple years for people to figure out,” Ballard said.

Ballard said he thinks that in four years, the evaluation process will factor in things as a combination of test scores, how students are doing, employee skills and professionalism.

“In four years, we’ll have a pretty solid system in place,” he said.


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Jim Riley got his own fiscal house in order so he could retire. Now he wonders why his city government can’t do the same for their employees, and taxpayers who could end with huge bills from the unfunded retirement liabilities.

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