C’mon Zellers, do you think blocking LIFO improves education?

Speaker Kurt Zellers laid out, what he thinks, are the “best” jobs proposals that the GOP Legislature has put forward.

Governor Dayton has been underwhelmed and with good reason. None of these proposals offer anything more than business accomodations. And let’s face it, with the cash on hand that business already has, if business was going to make a jobs push, it would already have done it.

But I want to talk about one item in particular that Zellers stresses. Here is the paragraph….

Our best ideas include ones that address the concerns that current and prospective businesses have about Minnesota’s long-term competitiveness. They want to see that we can develop a highly skilled workforce, so we are continuing education reforms that do the most to boost student performance, like ending the antiquated “last in, first out” law that punishes effective teachers.

Last in, first out, or LIFO, is Zellers example of improving education in Minnesota. I beg to differ.

The basic premise of LIFO is to allow administrations to lay off any one of their pool of teachers without regard to seniority. Teacher tenure would not protect experienced teachers.

Zellers and his supporters in this regard tell us that this will allow administrations to get rid of “underperforming” teachers and allow newer teachers with real promise to stay on.

But that is a false premise. What LIFO is going to do is to allow administrators to reduce salary expense by giving them the opiton of laying off higher salaries. They could eliminate fewer positions while increasing cost reductions.

A tenured or experienced teacher may cost more but is more likely to be a better teacher…to handle the class size….to get the most out of each student.

If there is a bad teacher in a school, why should you be waiting for the next round of layoffs to solve that problem? An administration should be dealing with that issue immediately.

Teachers who are hired last are not necessarily better or worse than their experienced counter parts, but experience does matter. A sense of continuity matters. A history of problem solving matters. A record of accountability matters.

LIFO is not the problem here. The problem is that we need to keep every teacher we can. We need to reduce class size. To expand opportunities in curriculum and extra curriculars. We need upgraded technologies and up to date textbooks.

LIFO doesn’t solve that — full funding of education solves that.

We shouldn’t be worrying about layoffs but rather seeking to keep every good teacher we can without layoffs.

If you want to improve our educated work force — I mean really improve it — then INVEST in education. Business will support that. Educators will support that. Parents will support that.

We can’t afford education on the cheap…let’s deal with the real needs of improving education and stop attacking the educators who can make it happen.

This post was written David Mindeman and originally published on mnpACT! Progressive Political Blog. Follow Dave on Twitter: @newtbuster.

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Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by James Hamilton on 04/03/2012 - 11:07 am.

    What’s wrong with flexibility?

    LIFO is not as simple as either side of the debate would have us believe. Right now, it is difficult at best to remove a teacher for anything less than gross incompetence or commission of a crime. On the other hand, we lack any reliable objective measures of teacher competence, much less of identifying truly superior teachers.

    Education is not a special case. Every organization has to look at the relative costs and benefits or retaining or discharging one employee versus another. It’s understandable that a union would seek to protect its older members. Unfortunately, unions most often have tipped the pay scales in favor of senior teachers, regardless of the relative value of their services and merit. If pay scales were flatter, with entry level teachers earning more, we could attract more and better people to teaching. Older teachers could be more secure in their jobs as well, because the economic incentive to dischare them rather than a less experienced teacher would be lower.

    Frankly, with the number of undergrads abandoning any thought of teaching as a career, our problem is not going to be who to lay off but where we’re going to find our teachers for tomorrow.

  2. Submitted by John Appelen on 04/04/2012 - 11:37 am.

    Teacher Comp and Security

    I agree whole heartedly. Since Unions promote significant compensation increases based on years instead of employee value or responsibility level, no wonder the older Teachers would be concerned.

    Per the linked graph, an “experienced/educated” Teacher can be making 2+ times as much as a newer Teacher who is doing exactly the same job. (ie teaching one classroom with the same number of kids) And the expectations are the same for both.


    I am going to cover this more later this week on G2A.

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