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Teacher layoff policy won’t change (veto)

Published (5/25/2012)
By Erin Schmidtke
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Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed one of the most contentious education bills of the session. The so-called “Last In, First Out” bill would have addressed the procedure of teacher layoffs.

Currently, when schools need to lay off teachers, they must determine who will lose their jobs based on seniority within the district. The bill sought to change that policy by authorizing districts to use performance evaluations in making that decision.

Supporters of the bill said that it would introduce fairness to school layoffs. Proponents like Rep. Branden Petersen (R-Andover), who sponsors the bill with Sen. Pam Wolf (R-Spring Lake Park), claim that the measure would reward teachers who are most effective.

The bill drew criticism from DFLers, who expressed frustration at what they called a hasty approach to education reform. Teachers’ union representatives and the governor said the bill was part of a continued Republican assault on educators this session.

“This bill, with the rhetoric accompanying it, is yet another example of this prejudice against public school teachers,” Dayton wrote in his veto letter. “Once again they are singled out as ‘the problem,’ for which some legislators’ solution is to override the long-established rights of local school boards and teachers’ elected representatives to negotiate the terms of their employment and their dismissals.”

Though parts of the bill would have taken effect the day following enactment, it would have become fully incorporated in school policy for the 2015-2016 school year.

“It is unclear why the Legislature feels such an urgency to mandate something that will not take effect for four years. After the evaluations have been designed and tested would be a far more appropriate time for the Legislature to determine, in 2015 or 2016, how best to incorporate them into layoff decisions,” Dayton wrote.

HF1870*/ SF1690/CH274

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