Monday, June 12, 2017

MN Teacher LIFO is Gone: Thank Heavens

Erin does an excellent job with MP LIFO Surprise. As you are aware, I am against tenure, Last In First Out, steps/lanes and all the other silly Union / State rules that prevent school administrators from keeping only the best most cost effective teachers in the classroom.
Now I am aware that teachers with seniority and tenure appreciate their high job security and relatively high wages and benefits. And that they want the Union and Liberal politicians to do everything in their power to protect this good deal. This makes sense from the point of view of a Teacher in this position.
However if you are a tax payer, a parent, a young gifted teacher or a student this is a terrible deal... Here are some of the reasons why:
  • Some teachers are paid more than their performance justifies. They may be stuck in a school district where they are burnt out but still paid better than they can get else where. Do you really think they are giving 100%? Don't the kids deserve better?
  • Raises are constrained for young energetic gifted teachers by the steps/lanes table. This would have driven me crazy when I was a young workaholic engineer. No wonder attracting young highly motivated talent is hard.
  • The reality is that if any of the teachers are paid more than what they would command on the open market or if the district has to expend a lot of money to get rid of questionable performers, it means that fewer Teachers can be hired and class sizes are made larger.
  • Other
The good news is that we have made one more common sense reform in MN. At least now the admin and teachers can negotiate this at the local level. However, the Ed MN President said one of the most disturbing things: 
"It’s too early to tell what sort of an impact the state-level LIFO repeal will actually have on schools. But Specht suspects there’s not much of an appetite, on the local level, to use anything other than seniority.

There are some locals that are probably going to just put seniority in their contract because it’s easy, it’s predictable,” she said. “We actually hear that a lot of superintendents and principals like it because sometimes having those tough conversations, it’s hard for them. We also believe that teacher development and evaluation law might play into this.” 
The idea that our highly paid school administrators are too scared to address poor performing teachers and that the ED MN President is okay with it makes me SO ANGRY... Both of these groups swear that they are there to ensure that only the best teachers are in the classroom. And yet they both may support seniority policies because it is easier. Definitely some major league hypocrites. 
This quote does give me hope though I am floored that this would be a new concept in the public schools... No wonder they have so many unresolved challenges.
"My guess would be that even though it’s no longer in state law, the status quo is still going to be the default unless there’s a specific effort to change it. And that is a battle that can often require a lot of political capital on the side of the district,” said Kency Nittler with the National Council on Teacher Quality. 
Even so, she says that the repeal of LIFO legislation in Minnesota opens up a number of new possibilities for districts to factor criteria other than seniority into their layoff policies. For instance, some districts might look to negotiate a system that buckets teachers into groups based on their performance-evaluation ratings. Those with the lowest level of ratings may be let go first
From there, any additional cuts might be based on seniority. In some policies she’s observed, districts have adopted a point system where teachers can get points for their performance evaluation. This portion often carries the most weight, but they can also get points for things like experience, leadership roles, or other measures of professional growth. 
I think there are ways to make systems that are not purely 100 percent based on performance that are certainly much less quality blind than 'last in, first out,' but are perhaps palatable for the negotiating table,” Nittler said."
I mean really...  What a creative new idea.... Layoff the poor performers first...  What will they think of next... 


Anonymous said...

Does that mean we can fire the senior more highly paid teachers?


jerrye92002 said...

I think any school that does not have a performance evaluation system is going to fall back on less effective ways to improve quality. Now if we could add performance pay based on those evaluations, there wouldn't be a need for a hierarchy of layoffs. Those performing well get raises and those that perform poorly never get a raise and gradually lay themselves off.

Anonymous said...

I take that as a yes.


John said...

The answer is yes, and thank heavens.

The idea that teachers should be paid more and have higher job security just because they are older is terrible for the kids.

Let's start tying wages to the challenge of the position and the performance of the employee.

jerrye92002 said...

Well, yes, in that we can fire the more senior, higher paid teachers who are not performing. We can also fire the younger, lower paid teachers who are not performing. But again, performance pay solves the problem without "firing" or laying off anybody. Somebody who never gets a raise (because of poor performance) is going to steadily lose ground to inflation, and will also feel unappreciated, so they will eventually move themselves out of that position for, we assume, something they are better suited to do.

Anonymous said...

Well, yes, in that we can fire the more senior, higher paid teachers who are not performing

Can they fire highly paid teachers who are performing? Or teachers who are performing in ways they don't like?


John said...

Maybe, but why would they? Do you think the admin wants their school to fail.

And yes. Thankfully.

John said...

My response to Ray's comment on MP...
"I call tenure, steps/lanes, LIFO, etc the silver hand cuffs... And ironically they were forged by the Teacher's Union and put on voluntarily by most Teachers.

The Teacher's willingness to be judged by years in district and degree level to be put in a little box on the steps/lanes table amazes me. And all to ensure they get consistent raises, higher job security and higher than justified wages later in their career.

And to get these benefits they had to give up the freedom to be measured as individuals, and to change positions whenever they got tired of their job, school, school district, etc.

See, sane businesses evaluate each potential employee based on their personal qualifications and what people in the market are paying for certain positions. And if the person has the correct qualifications and experience, the company pays the correct amount. And then they terminate employment if things don't work out.

And sane employs evaluates each company and position based on the reputation of the company, the interview with a potential supervisor, compensation offered, position offered, etc. And then they move to another job if it does not work out.

It is insane that our schools classify employees by seniority and degrees to figure out how qualified and productive they are and how much to pay them. Imagine if you needed to have your shingles replaced and the guild representative insisted that you need to pay the one roofing crew twice as much because the employees were older... Not because they were better, faster, had better customer reviews, etc. It makes NO Sense... :-)" G2A

Sean said...

Have you ever considered why teachers' unions (which are made up of and run by teachers) feel that tenure is important? Is it merely some sort of malevolent conspiracy designed to screw the taxpayer? Or do teachers have concerns which tenure addresses?

jerrye92002 said...

Interesting question Sean. My answer would be that tenure protects the incompetent but highly paid teacher, thus making more union dues available while not caring a whit about the kids. It's a union, not a "professional organization" dedicated to standards and best practices.