House passes bill that changes teacher tenure rules

/ 26 April 2012 / jennifer

Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio, April 26, 2012 –

The Minnesota House passed a bill that would allow local school districts to fire teachers on performance instead of seniority. The House took the action even though Governor Dayton has suggested that he’ll veto it. Supporters of the measure say it’s needed to ensure the best teachers stay in the classroom.

Rep. Brandon Petersen, R-Andover, said Governor Dayton and others were defending the state’s teacher’s unions. He suggested they’re on the wrong side of public opinion.

“You’re standing against an overwhelming tide of change and all you’re doing is placing your fingers into the dam,” Petersen said. “But it will crack in another place and it will come through because the taxpayers will demand accountability for the largest investment in this country and they’re demanding accountability for their kids.”

Current law says schools must only consider teacher seniority when making layoffs unless local districts negotiate other policies.

Critics say the performance measurements in the bill are new and too subjective.

Rep. Jim Davnie, R-Minneapolis, said the bill had problems because it focuses solely on teacher performance.

“This bill allows weak administrators with unknown qualifications to keep their jobs and make the decisions as to which teachers get laid off,” Davnie said.

The Senate is expected to pass the bill and send it to Governor Dayton. Dayton has suggested that he will veto the bill.