The Big Story Blog

How teachers see the seniority / layoff system

Posted at 11:56 AM on February 23, 2012 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Education

Mary Supple says changes working through the Legislature to scrap the seniority-only system for teacher layoffs will not fix the problem of ineffective teachers.

"Effective administrators do that," Supple, a teacher from Richfield, wrote us. "Seniority ... removes the temptation to just eliminate the teacher with the biggest salary."

We reached out to Supple and other educators in the MPR News Public Insight Network seeking their views on changes that would end seniority as the sole factor in deciding layoffs and let administrators weigh teacher evaluations and quality when cuts have to come.

We found teachers were not in lockstep. Some were opposed. Others thought it was time to rewrite the rules but weren't sure of what should be done and thought the Legislature was on the wrong track. Click on the map icons below to read what they told us, then add your voice.

View Teacher views on seniority, layoffs in a full screen map

Charles Moore of Frazee acknowledged he's seen "old, lazy tenured teachers stay in a district and not contribute anything to the learners -- but those numbers are very, very small."

He worries that the tenure debate is all political and "not motivated for the improvement of education."

"I think there needs to be more than just seniority in the equation, but I don't think anyone yet has the answer to what that 'more' needs to be," said Kathryn Gardner, a teacher from Rochester.

There are a lot of layers to this issue and it can't be subject to a quick fix. Teachers do so much more than teach content and somehow all these other things need to be considered.

But how do you measure the influence that teachers have on their students, the school climate ... How do you keep the layoffs from being politically motivated or financially motivated?


About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.