The school year has ended across the state. As students enjoy their summer of freedom, school districts are setting plans for who will be teaching them when they return in the fall. Most schools, facing stagnant or falling enrollment and little in the way of financial help from the state, will be laying off at least a few teachers. And as in years past, those teachers will most likely be the youngest, newest teachers, especially those who have not taught the three years needed to achieve tenure.
The Star Tribune on Sunday published an article after surveying the major school districts in the metro area. Those cutting back are cutting probationary teachers first, then letting seniority lists decide who is laid off. The survey would yield similar results around the state. That's just how it is done, thanks to the state's teacher tenure law.
The state Legislature passed a bill this year that would have changed that. It would have school districts consider merit and teaching ability, not just seniority in making layoff decisions. The bill was vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton.
In times of stable school enrollment, when teaching staff sizes also remained stable, this wasn't that big an issue. But in today's environment, when financial challenges are forcing districts to cut back year after year, the system discourages good young teachers from entering the system. There's not much job security for new teachers coming out of college and taking their first jobs. No matter how well they teach, they know that when the budget axe falls, they will be under it. If they find another position, they will face the same situation a year later.
Minnesota really should change this situation. The Legislature should pass the bill that was vetoed again, and the governor should sign it.