Put students, good teachers first

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Historic legislation reforming Michigan’s antiquated teacher tenure laws were approved by the state Senate to protect effective teachers and streamline the process for dismissing ineffective ones, said Sen. Darwin Booher, who voted for the reforms.

“These reforms put the education of our students first and improve schools throughout the state by keeping effective teachers in the classroom instead of entrenching bad ones,” said Booher, R-Evart. “Continuing to reward ineffective teachers with tenure is terrible public policy that only hurts students.  This reform package makes several key changes to the status quo, such as implementing teacher performance evaluations and removing barriers that make it nearly impossible to dismiss ineffective teachers.”

House Bills 4625-4628, as approved by the Senate, would require tenure to be granted based on performance as opposed to the number of years a schoolteacher has been teaching. The bills also extend the probationary period for new teachers but allow tenure to be earned more quickly if a teacher is rated “highly effective.”

Under the reform, the legal standard for dismissing a teacher would be changed to match that of administrators and to allow for the dismissal of ineffective teachers. An appointed council of evaluation experts would be charged with recommending a statewide evaluation system to the Legislature no later than April 30, 2012, at which time the system could be placed into statute.

“Students need quality educators to give them the tools they will need in an increasingly global economy,” Booher said. “This requires teachers who are able to connect with students. The best way to determine this is to annually evaluate effectiveness – based at least in part on student performance – and enable schools to dismiss a teacher who has failed to live up to our effectiveness expectations for three consecutive years.”

The measures include a prohibition on seniority-based layoffs – the so-called “last in, first out” policies that force less experienced educators to be let go regardless of their effectiveness in the classroom. The bills now return to the Michigan House for concurrence.
 

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