Tomorrow is a big day in Olympia as House Bill 1609 (the so-called "Great Schools" legislation) will hold a public hearing. LEV and Stand for Children are all for this bill which would overturn the teachers contract issue of using seniority for RIFs.
Let me go on the record as saying I see both sides. I can see why, in the face of the lack of any known method of assessing teachers fairly, teachers would go with seniority. On the other hand, it does seem wrong that being a teacher longer than another teacher would necessarily be the game changer. It says absolutely nothing about your abilities (except that in all your years of being a teacher, you had done nothing to get kicked out).
It's quite the dilemma.
I also want to point out that in Seattle, the SEA signed their contract for 3 more years of continuing the use of seniority in RIFs. But I also want to point out that the School Board agreed to this and the district signed off on it. So don't put it all on the union when the leadership in this district said yes as well. Be mad if you don't like it but remember who signed the document.
LEV had a blurb about the bill coming up for the hearing. And they said this:
The House Education Committee will hold a public hearing tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. on House Bill 1609, which would allow school districts to keep their most effective teachers.
What I take issue with is this: it is indeed possible that under seniority, you could lose a good teacher. But the statement above says,
"...which would allow school districts to keep their most effective teachers."
How do you know every teacher RIFed is a "most effective teacher"? Some might be and some might not. It's easy to use hyperbole when you want to push a bill but it's not really fair. Not every teacher who is RIFed is one of the most effective.
LEV gives no mention that at least in Seattle, the new contract HAS a new system of teacher assessment (which most would consider a step in the right direction). Once that is in place I can see eliminating seniority. There are also 17 pilot projects throughout Washington state on teacher assessment. So there is work and movement in the direction away from the use of seniority but apparently no one wants to wait to see the work through.
I'm no lawyer (so help me out you Perry Masons) but, if passed, would this law would overturn those portions of the teachers contract about seniority? Would those have to be renegotiated or does the law now just substitute for that wording?