After hours of debate, House passes bill to nix ‘last in, first out’ teacher layoff policy

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A much-discussed bill that redraws the parameters for teacher layoffs in Minnesota passed the House last night – but only after a lengthy debate.

After a vote on the measures was delayed last week, state representatives spent Thursday night arguing the merits of the bill and offering amendments. The Star Tribune says it took nearly seven hours of back-and-forth before a vote.

The main topic in the multifaceted proposal is a change in how tenure (how long a teacher has been employed) affects layoffs.

The result of Thursday's vote? It passed 70-63, essentially along party lines, with nearly every Republican in the GOP-controlled House giving it the thumbs up, and Democrats voting against it.

Worth noting: The Senate's version of the bill is sponsored by a Democrat, Terri Bonoff. (It's currently in the Education Committee.)

However MPR says the chances it becomes a law are "dim."

The House bill ends the "last in, first out" policy that emphasizes seniority in choosing who must go. The bill then requires local school districts to come up with a new layoff policy that puts a stronger emphasis on teacher effectiveness.

There are other components of the bill, including changes to licensing for out-of-state teachers and training tweaks. (Read the full bill here.)

Proponents (most, but not all, of whom are Republican) frame the bill as targeting ineffective teachers and ensuring the quality educators are the ones who teach Minnesota's children.

Opponents (most, but not all of whom are Democrats) say it hurts teacher stability, and upends teacher evaluations – turning them from a joint review process into something that could threaten their job and hurt morale.

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