Tuesday, March 3, 2015

MN Teacher Improvement Bill

This is a very interesting topic and the Star Tribune's analysis is pretty fascinating.

CBS MN Taking Aim at Teacher Seniority
Star Tribune Cost of Evaluation

Especially this quote.
"Gov. Mark Dayton said Thursday that about a third of the state’s school districts have negotiated contracts that allow them to use teacher evaluations and student performance in layoff decisions. “I think we should look at the example that a third of the school districts ... have negotiated, seniority remains part of the consideration, but it’s not the only consideration,” the DFL governor said.

A recent Star Tribune analysis of locally negotiated contracts showed that while those districts include other factors, all of them use seniority as the primary consideration in determining layoffs. If two teachers have equal seniority, those districts will use other factors ranging from extracurricular experience to college grade-point averages to Social Security numbers or even a coin flip to break a tie.

Asked for the source of the governor’s information, Dayton spokesman Matt Swenson said in an e-mail that Education Minnesota kept track of union contracts because it negotiated them. Swenson later added that he had checked with Dayton and that the governor had gotten his information from Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius.

Charlene Briner, chief of staff at the Minnesota Department of Education, said the department does not retain or analyze locally negotiated contracts because it is not a party to them. She said the department has cited an analysis of local plans by Education Minnesota that said 40 percent of districts include factors other than seniority."
What will it take to get Dayton to put the good of the unlucky students before the wants of his friends at Ed MN?


Sean said...

The State shouldn't tell local districts how it should handle teacher layoffs. That's what "local control" is all about.

jerrye92002 said...

Not sure the unions should, either.

Sean said...

It's up to school boards to use their authority. If they don't, voters should replace them.

jerrye92002 said...

The problem with that is that most school boards are elected with the help of the unions, and it is almost impossible to get elected without their support. That's because most elections are in the odd year when those who turn out are those with a vested interest-- union members and parents who want everything they can get from the "free" education. Fiscal conservatives and reformers don't have a prayer.

Laurie said...

From a recent story in the pioneer press:

"At the height of the recession, less than 2 percent of Minnesota's teaching force was cut"

seems to me we should be having debates about ways to improve education that would have much more impact than eliminating lifo

I would suggest funding charter schools that serve high needs student (low income, English language learners) at an equitable level. Five percent of students are enrolled in charter schools and overall they are not doing that well as far as test scores go.

I think all schools that have large numbers of students that are not passing the MCA should have funds for extended day and extended school year.

John said...

Ok... Did you support the Anti-Bullying bill?

A bill that clearly reached into every district and micro-managed every employee, school and classroom.

Do you support State laws that force every Teacher to pay big Union dues?

And you are crying "keep decisions local"... You have got to be kidding !!!

Please remember that most of the layoffs I encounter have nothing to do with recessions. They occur when school districts shrink and schools are closed.

Increasing funding for students, schools and teachers that need it sounds great. However it needs to come from somewhere. Preferably that is from the current wasteful compensation system that rewards age/degrees instead of effectivity/challenge.

Laurie said...


You are being annoying again as you lecture about teacher layoffs, which you clearly know very little about.

Here is another fact for you.
"Last year, 350 teachers were cut" that is less than 1% of the teaching force. Of course most layoffs occur when the schools have less funding/budget shortfalls, which often coincides with a recession. I think during the most recent recession $ from the stimulous may have reduce the number of teachers laid off.

Lastly, why should charter school students be shortchanged because you don't like how traditional large districts manage their staff/$.

John said...

Let's just work with your 350 Teacher number. By the way, a source would be appreciated.

Assuming an average class size of 25 students. That means that those 350 Teachers touch and impact 8,750 students.

Since performance was not used to determine who was let go, that means it is likely that most of those students are being taught by a less effective Teacher than they could have been.

Do you have any rationale that makes this seem like what is best for the students?

It is definitely great for senior Teachers... But not so great for the unlucky kids...

John said...

So it sounds like you believe that Public Education funding should just be raised again to give more money to Charters...

Please remember that to do this more tax revenues must be raised or other programs would need to be cut.

Who do you want to tax more?
What spending would you reduce?

Or do we work to ensure the status quo nearly monopolistic schools use their funds efficiently? Give schools like yours what is saved and ensure they compete more fairly...

Laurie said...

I think I heard something in the news about a 1.8 billion dollar surplus and I believe some proposals have been made to increase per pupil funding. I'd go lobby for some additional funds for charter schools, but I think it would be a waste of my time.

about my number, you should know by now that my figures are reliable. Try googling "Last year, 350 teachers were cut" and you will have my source.

Since I am taking a night off from paper work I will revise your math to make it more accurate.

837,154 students / 54,253=15.4 students/teacher x 350 teachers=5400 students impacted(about.6%)

I am only slightly against the idea of ending lifo, because I think current evaluation systems may be unfair in some cases and have unintended consequences. Anyhow, the whole proposal won't make much difference in improving education, especially since it would probably still be mostly first year teachers losing their jobs.

btw, charter schools educate about 42,000 students.

Sean said...

"Did you support the Anti-Bullying bill?"

On balance, I did, but it's not perfect.

"A bill that clearly reached into every district and micro-managed every employee, school and classroom."

I think "micromanage" is a little strong, but I understand the sentiment. I would argue the bill does give districts flexibility to develop their own policy -- which they should do, because the model policy is not ideal for many districts.

"Do you support State laws that force every Teacher to pay big Union dues?"

I support the policy of fair share dues. The union is obligated to provide services for all teachers in the District, so all teachers should have to pay in.

John said...

So by your numbers only 5,400 students get a sub-optimal Teacher, or if it is a middle / high school situation with 5 periods... 27,000 students get a sub-optimal math, english, science, etc Teacher.

My question still stands.

Do you have any rationale that makes this seem like what is best for the students?

John said...

I agree with you that performance based management is subjective and not always fair. Remember that I was let go after 16 years with a corporation in part because a Manager did not like me and I was high paid.

It is however much better for the company, employees and customers than a system that uses steps/lanes and treats all employees as equally competent if they have the same years / degrees. Which of course we know is not true...

John said...

I think the "Fair Share Fee" seems pretty Unfair and Un-American.

"Fair share fee.

An exclusive representative may require employees who are not members of the exclusive representative to contribute a fair share fee for services rendered by the exclusive representative. The fair share fee must be equal to the regular membership dues of the exclusive representative, less the cost of benefits financed through the dues and available only to members of the exclusive representative. In no event may the fair share fee exceed 85 percent of the regular membership dues. The exclusive representative shall provide advance written notice of the amount of the fair share fee to the employer and to unit employees who will be assessed the fee. The employer shall provide the exclusive representative with a list of all unit employees.

A challenge by an employee or by a person aggrieved by the fee must be filed in writing with the commissioner, the public employer, and the exclusive representative within 30 days after receipt of the written notice. All challenges must specify those portions of the fee challenged and the reasons for the challenge. The burden of proof relating to the amount of the fair share fee is on the exclusive representative. The commissioner shall hear and decide all issues in these challenges.

The employer shall deduct the fee from the earnings of the employee and transmit the fee to the exclusive representative 30 days after the written notice was provided. If a challenge is filed, the deductions for a fair share fee must be held in escrow by the employer pending a decision by the commissioner."

People are required to pay it even if they do not support the Union or it's actions, policies, etc.

It is payroll deducted from their check.

Sean said...

As the exclusive representative, the union is required to provide certain services to everyone who works under the contract, even those who disagree with the union. So, those individuals have a responsibility to pay their fair share to cover those services.

This, in fact, is entirely American. It's how our tax system works today. I may disagree with our government's policy in a certain aspect, but I still have a responsibility to pay my taxes.

jerrye92002 said...

Sounds to me like the problem is that "exclusive representative" language. What if I, as an employee, wish to represent myself? I think it's called the "freedom to contract" and it's a pretty American idea. Forced unionism is not.

And we are still talking about teacher evaluations as the basis for layoffs, and I don't think that is the way they should be used. They should be used to offer merit pay, and layoffs or terminations should be a different matter.

John said...

Are you really equating government and their legal right to tax, collect and spend for the good of our country...

Too a Union and their right to collect dues and speak for the all employees... Even those who do not support the Union.

I think that is a bit of a stretch.

John said...

I don't think Ed MN is very open to improving comp policy to help the kids. I hope that changes, however why would Senior Teachers who are making out good with the current system be interested in considering change that may result in lower compensation, lower job security and/or more challenging classrooms?

As a start, I will be happy if at least schools could use downturns as an opportunity to shed poor Teachers. You know those that are not quite terrible enough to justify all the time, effort and paperwork to fight the Union. Yet they just are not doing right by the kids, and someone else could do better.

jerrye92002 said...

That is why I think merit pay, used to set pay INCREASES but not base pay, is so critical. This lets those senior teachers continue to draw their relatively high pay, but conditions future increases in that pay on merit (and using "experience" as part of that). Therefore, the "good" senior teachers continue to increase their pay, while the "poor" senior teachers get minimal or even zero increases, eventually dropping them to where they belong or even prompting them to move out of teaching,if they're bad enough. And it would establish (shhh... secret) that teachers did not need unions to negotiate their pay and could be eliminated.

Sean said...

"Are you really equating government and their legal right to tax, collect and spend for the good of our country..."

It's not enshrined in the Constitution, obviously, but conceptually it's similar.

Let's get to basics here. The two essential inputs for a business are capital and labor. A corporation is "organized capital" -- a way for more than one person to combine their capital in a legal structure that provides benefits to those individuals and society.

Consequently, the notion that we shouldn't have "organized labor" is absurd.

In a corporation, a majority vote of the shareholders speaks for the corporation as a whole. Should a shareholder who disagrees with the decision of the whole be exempted from the consequences of that vote? Of course not.

jerrye92002 said...

"Consequently, the notion that we shouldn't have "organized labor" is absurd."

Not necessarily. I would point out that those who pool their capital to form the corporation do so VOLUNTARILY. To equate that to forced unionism would be absurd. Make union membership voluntary and it makes sense.

Sean said...

People aren't forced to take jobs in union shops, either.

jerrye92002 said...

Nor are they free to work at a union shop without joining the union. That's what right to work fixes. It's "freedom of association" as in the First Amendment.

John said...

I think it is telling that the only sectors where Unions don't kill themselves off is Public and Local Services.

One has the unlimited capability to tax to cover the extra costs, and the other has a captured market with larger barriers to competition. (ie to off shore trucking, carpenters, nurses, etc would be hard)

John said...

Forgot the Link...

According to Shawn's comment, it is okay that ~40% of public employee jobs would be off limits to people who do not support unions. I guess I agree with Jerry that that seems wrong.

And I am still looking for the government law that forces me to buy some company's stock...

Maybe... "You shall buy company stock if you want to work at a corporation..." That is kind of how the forced dues work.

jerrye92002 said...

"...the only sectors where Unions don't kill themselves off is Public and Local Services."

Not quite true. Imagine what would happen had the unions succeeded in capturing McDonald's, etc.? The rush to automation precipitated by the foolish and despotic minimum wage increases would eliminate a lot of those "local service" jobs. They cannot be offshored, but they can be eliminated. The robot burger-flipper is already being installed some places.

jerrye92002 said...

Imagine what will happen when a school district manages to figure out that they can hire teachers from India to teach remotely for 1/3 of what US teachers (through their unions) demand, or that computers can double productivity of teachers? The only thing standing in the way now is union power and initial cost.