Tenure, seniority reform pass House

LANSING, Mich. — Tenure and seniority would no longer shield ineffective teachers if legislation that passed the Michigan House on Thursday becomes law, supporters of the reform measures said, according to The Detroit News.

The package of four bills would allow administrators to remove ineffective teachers from the classroom more quickly and allow school districts greater leeway in teacher layoffs, rather than requiring them to follow strict seniority rules, The News reported.

Among the changes, according to The News: Tenure would be granted after five years instead of four. A teacher with three consecutive “highly effective” evaluations could receive tenure earlier, while one with poor evaluations could be demoted to probationary status. Teacher evaluations would have to be based partly on student achievement data, and districts could lay off teachers based on their effectiveness, though seniority could be taken into account as well.

It is uncertain when the Senate will take up the bills, a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, told The News.

The News reported that it is widely believed that tenure reform will pass the Legislature and be signed by Gov. Rick Snyder.

Critics said the bills would allow for arbitrary evaluations and laying off of veteran teachers as a way to save money, The News reported. Supporters said the tenure process has long been too cumbersome.

The Detroit News, “House targets teacher tenure,” June 10, 2011

Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Union Claims New Tenure Rules Will Lead to Discrimination against Sexual Orientation and Pregnancy,” May 27, 2011