News Story

Bill Would Require Parental Permission For Children To Be Taught By Ineffective Teachers

A bipartisan bill would require school districts to get written approval by parents if their child is going to be assigned a teacher that has been rated as “ineffective.”

House Bill 5776 was introduced by Rep. Maureen Stapleton, D-Detroit, and co-sponsored by Republicans Rep. Mark Ouimet, R-Scio Township, and Rep. Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage.  O’Brien is the Associate Speaker Pro Tempore for House Republicans.

The requirement would go into effect in 2015-2016 if passed and signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder.

School districts had to create a teacher-evaluation system and have it in place by September 2011 with the performance-evaluation system being used by the 2013-14 school year. The performance-evaluation system must rate teachers as "highly effective, effective, minimally effective, or ineffective." 

By 2015-16, a teacher's evaluation would be 50 percent based on "student growth and assessment data." If a teacher is rated as ineffective for three consecutive years, the district could fire the teacher.

"Parents are taxpayers," said State Rep. Dave Agema, R-Grandville. "If they don't want their kid being taught by an ineffective teacher, that's their call. It’s all about choice. It comes down to parental choice and it also makes the teachers more accountable."

Jim Perialas, president of the Roscommon Teacher Association, said the bill has merit — in theory. A problem is that evaluations can be inconsistent, he said.

Perialas said in his district last year, one building administrator rated everyone in his building as highly effective. Two other administrators rated everyone effective with the exception of two were rated as highly effective.

"Let's make this clear, the addition to the bill (sending notification and getting parental approval to place student with ineffective teachers) does effectively fire you," Perialas said in an email. "After all, what parent is going to agree to that? If that teacher then has no students to fill a classroom, there is then ample grounds to terminate. … At minimum, the bill has many flaws in practice. But don't get me wrong, I do feel districts should have greater leeway to terminate ineffective teachers, I'm just not sure this is the way to do it."

Agema, a fomer commercial pilot, said when pilots were ineffective, they were eventually fired.

"Why should a teacher be any different?" he said.

Freedom of Information Act requests of every school district in the state showed that over the past five years, less than 0.001 percent of teachers were fired. Last year, the legislature changed the public school employee tenure law to make it easier to remove ineffective teachers.

Reps. Stapleton and Ouimet did not respond to requests for comment.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.