Issaquah senators introduce bill to nix teacher seniority

February 3, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 8 a.m. Feb. 3, 2011

The state could require school districts to use evaluation ratings to determine teacher layoffs, under a bill introduced by Issaquah legislators Steve Litzow and Rodney Tom.

The state senators aim to scrap the “last in, first out” seniority rule used to determine teacher layoffs during budget cuts and enrollment slumps.

“When we lay off newer teachers who have proven their effectiveness in the classroom, we are not only denying today’s students access to a quality learning experience, but future students as well,” Bellevue Democrat Tom said in a statement. “Many of those teachers never return to the classroom, seeking new professions that reward great performance and going the extra mile.”

The senators cited a recent study by the University of Washington Center for Education Data & Research, and said the research indicated the practice is inefficient economically and educationally.

Senate Bill 5399 calls for teachers receiving the lowest evaluation ratings to be laid off first. The legislation said the rating should be determined by averaging teachers’ two most recent evaluations.

If teachers have identical average ratings, the preference for contract renewal must be given to the teacher with the most experience.

“We can all agree that we must work to ensure the best teachers stay in the classroom,” Mercer Island Republican Litzow said in the statement. “The loss of teachers for fiscal reasons results in bigger classes and that along impacts student learning.”

Tom represents the Greenwood Point and South Cove neighborhoods in Issaquah, plus parts of Bellevue, Kirkland and Redmond in the 48th Legislative District. Litzow represents Talus and other Cougar Mountain communities in Issaquah, plus unincorporated King County, Mercer Island and Newcastle.

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2 Responses to “Issaquah senators introduce bill to nix teacher seniority”

  1. Aubrey on February 3rd, 2011 4:15 pm

    I LOVE this proposal. At my high school 2 years ago they started doing the major layoffs and ended up letting go one of the students’ favorite teachers. One of the layoffs was devastating because he had a new and exciting way of teaching that was very refreshing. We were upset that they had to lay him off rather than the teacher that has been there since the dinosaurs roamed the earth. My school has a number of teachers that have worked there for so long they have fallen off the administrations radar for evaluation and have thus lost the need to teach effectively.

    As part of the evaluation I feel that the students should have some sort of say, or at least their test scores and test rigor. The failure of a teacher I mentioned earlier would never fall on the radar because he often just gives his students passing grades based on how much he likes them as a person. I’m not joking about this. The terrible part is he teaches Precalculus so many of the students going into the calculus class find that they are completely unprepared for the rigor of the class.

  2. Chris on February 7th, 2011 4:05 am

    Fine Idea, but remember that the most senior teachers often get the best reviews because of their long-standing relationships with administration.
    There have been many attempts to find “good” and “bad” teachers throught test scores, reviews and evaluations, yet none of those methods are objective in practice.

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