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C'mon Zellers - Do You Think Blocking LIFO Improves Education?

Category: Education
Posted: 04/02/12 10:25, Edited: 04/02/12 10:26

by Dave Mindeman

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.
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