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.