State lawmakers may revise teacher tenure protections
School districts are determining their budgets for the coming year, but it's a process that's challenging because they don't know how much money they'll receive from the state.

As a result, many teachers who don't have seniority in their districts might not have jobs next year. That provision is called LIFO, which is an acronym for "Last In, First Out."

Essentially, it means that when a school district needs to cut back on teachers, they have to go by seniority, and younger teachers are the first on the chopping block. Republican lawmakers hope to tweak that provision.

"We're saying, nope, you're last in the door, therefore, you're first to be laid off," said Rep. Dennis Smith, R-Maple Grove. "That simply is an outdated policy. Forty-four other states have revised their provisions on this, and Minnesota needs to as well."

Dennis Smith is the co-author of the House education plan, which includes a provision that would give school districts and local teacher's unions the opportunity to consider factors, other than seniority, as they determine which teachers to keep.

If passed, Smith calls the bill a step in the right direction.

However, the plan has not traditionally been supported by Governor Dayton. Education Minnesota, the state's teachers union, says LIFO protects teachers from "arbitrary or vindictive layoffs."

Smith feels otherwise about revising the LIFO provision.

"It really is for the betterment of the entire union, and more importantly, it benefits our children if we use other indications besides seniority," he said.

Smith says he believes that the bill with the revised LIFO provision will land on the desk of Governor Dayton. If the governor vetoes the bill, he thinks there might be enough votes to override the veto.

Delane Cleveland

April 13, 2017


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