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Of course Minnesota should scrap seniority

March 1, 2012
Gary Andersen, Lee Smith , Fairmont Sentinel

The Minnesota Senate this week approved a bill that would let public schools lay off teachers based on their job performance, rather than by seniority alone. The House has passed a similar bill. Differences will now be worked out before a final version is sent to Gov. Mark Dayton, who has not said whether he will sign or veto it.

What's at stake? A lot.

Minnesota currently requires school districts to only consider seniority in deciding layoffs, unless schools have negotiated other arrangements with local teachers. For those - taxpayers, school board members, administrators - not enjoying it, seniority as the sole basis for job retention has long been a thorn in the side. It is an absurdity sparked by unionism that everyone knows has nothing to do with life in the real world. What should count? Productivity. Which means what kind of effort and commitment does a given teacher show? Does he or she just show up, or really make a difference in the classroom?

In other words, the owners of the schools - the public - deserve quality employees. Who determines what constitutes "quality?" Well, as in any walk of life, managers oversee subordinates. If local school boards want to put in place an appeals process for those laid off, we believe that may make sense. But the fundamental principle at stake remains clear:?The people running the schools should be in charge of employment decisions.



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