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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

LIFO:Still Focusing On Blame & Not Looking For What's Right

Category: GOP Politics
Posted: 04/27/12 13:24, Edited: 04/27/12 13:32

by Dave Mindeman

The GOP State House passed an anti- LIFO (Last In First Out) bill to "reform" education....via teachers.

It looks like Gov. Dayton will probably veto the bill if it gets to his desk. His position is that we need to let our new evaluation system have a chance to work before we change a seniority option.

The Governor is right but there is more to this situation than that. The argument made by those who are against LIFO is that new and promising teachers are always the first laid off when budget negotiations require cuts.

From the debate:

(Andover's Rep. Brandon) Petersen said defenders of the status quo are doing little more than putting their fingers into cracks of a dam. People want overhauls in the country's public school systems, he said, and that movement is coming to Minnesota. And that includes making sure teacher layoffs are based on performance, not on seniority.

Petersen may be right about the growing sentiment, in the public, for reform. But he is not right about removing LIFO as part of that desire. The true answer is that the public wants reform; they just don't know what the answer is. Petersen is merely putting his anti-LIFO solution into that blank space.

What I am most concerned about is the flip side of the argument. If LIFO is removed, what will stop districts from simply removing teachers who have the experience and a good record, but have a much higher salary than their rookie counterparts? How many good, experienced and hard to replace teachers will we lose then?

The incentive for districts would be to lay off the higher salaries. They get to keep more teachers for their money and will take their chances that new teachers can grow into the job.


I reject the idea that "reform" means the dismantling of teacher negotiated contractual benefits. I reject the idea that "reform" means accepting perpetual budget cuts. I reject the idea that "reform" assumes this state cannot meet 21st century education technology and expansion because we can't afford it.

We can afford it. We have to afford it. How we view our future is determined by how we view education.

LIFO isn't the problem. Our investments are the problem. If we truly believe that school funding shifts are a budget answer, then we are already dead in the water.

Education is a huge percentage of our budget. It should be. And we should also be making sure that those dollars are used wisely and efficiently. But haven't we spent the last 10 years (via Pawlenty and now a GOP legislature) doing just that? Looking for all the different ways we can cut?

It's time to stop looking at what's currently wrong and strive to move forward with real, education changing investments that look to the future.

It's time to stop blaming teachers for our problems and work to help them with community solutions. Parents have to participate, they have to. Administrations need to promote an exchange of good ideas and do everything possible to provide the best possible tools. And our legislature needs to finally work cooperatively with teachers and not dismiss their input.

The easy excuse is to blame teachers. They are the ones in the classroom and making the decisions about how best to educate. But let's not forget that we, as parents.... as the community...we are responsible to get them the proper tools, keep their class sizes managable, and make sure technology is up to date.

This is not about blaming for failure, but rather let's find a cooperation that leads to success.
comments (1) permalink
04/28/12 01:13
Dave, long time reader, first time commenter...thanks for the work you do in keeping up this blog, but I disagree with you on this issue for the following three reasons.

1. It is not 'time to stop looking at what is wrong' as there is always room for improvement within the current system.
2. Protecting LIFO risks causing the public to rethink their positive view of teachers (and by extension teacher's unions).
3. You can't deny there is some form of generational warfare here. Boomer politicians protecting boomer teachers from gen y teachers (with their hefty student loans).

Obviously reforming LIFO is no 'magic bullet' that would solve all of public education's ills, and of course it does nothing to improve public/community involvement. But it is a divided govt, compromise is necessary and I think this is something that Dayton and the teacher's unions should be prepared to offer.

Thanks again for the work you do...


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