The Senate Education Committee heard two days of testimony this week on bills to streamline the teacher licensing process and require districts to use teacher performance, not seniority, as the primary factor in staffing decisions. The bills overhaul how the state licenses teachers and how school leaders make staffing decisions such as teacher layoffs.
Districts typically use a “last in, first out,” or LIFO, as the primary way to cut staff, although state law allows them to negotiate systems that use other criteria.
State Sens. Terri Bonoff, DFL-Minnetonka, and Eric Pratt, R-Prior Lake, are the chief authors. Sen. Greg Clausen, DFL-Apple Valley, sponsored a bill to streamline the licensing process for teachers from out-of-state.
Several hours of testimony took place. MSBA, MASA, AMSD testified in support, EdMN and BOT against. School administrators mentioned the state’s licensing system needs to be fixed to help a growing teacher shortage problem. Some said using teacher seniority as a primary factor during layoffs drives young, effective teachers from the job.
Many teachers and Education Minnesota officials opposed the changes. They stated school leaders already have the tools they need to hire, fire and assign teachers and worry that using the new evaluation law to rank teachers will lead to mistrust and even lawsuits when teachers challenge a layoff.
Chair Wiger, DFL-Maplewood, said members would continue to debate the proposals in the coming weeks and essentially laid the bills over for possible inclusion in the education omnibus bill.