“Last in, first out,” is a step closer to being snuffed out – for now.
A bill ending the controversial seniority protections for city teachers was narrowly approved in the state senate on Tuesday, March 2 and will now face a vote in the state assembly. “Last in, first out,” (LIFO) decides teacher layoffs based on seniority, rather than performance.
The bill, introduced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, would call for collective bargaining between the city and the teachers union to develop new layoff procedures where seniority is not the sole criteria.
The assembly vote will be a tough pass as Speaker Sheldon Silver has already come out against the bill, stating that he would not consider the bill and instead supports creating an objective system to evaluate teachers – which lines up with another bill being touted by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Cuomo introduced his own plan to reform teacher evaluations soon after Bloomberg’s plan passed the senate. His proposed plan would implement a statewide teacher evaluation system, based on the teachers’ performance and seniority.
“It is time to move beyond the so-called ‘last in, first out’ system of relying exclusively on seniority,” said Cuomo. “However, we need a legitimate evaluation system to rely upon. This will help make a statewide evaluation system ready and allow us to replace ‘last in, first out.’”
Parameters of Cuomo’s evaluation system would include a new teacher rating system including “highly effective,” “effective,” “developing” or “ineffective.” According to Cuomo, teachers and principals with a pattern of ineffective teaching or performance could be charged with incompetence and considered for termination through an expedited hearing process.
“We need to put students first by keeping the best educators in the in the classroom, whether they have worked for one year or 25 years,” he said. “While seniority should be part of the equation, it cannot be the only factor when making important employment decisions in our schools. Entrenched interests that benefit from the status quo will portray this as an assault, but the reality is we want to work with teachers to support New York’s students."
Cuomo’s legislation would affect school districts across the state, but will not affect the thousands of layoffs that Bloomberg said he must carry out because of cuts in state aid.
According to published reports, there are some in the mayor’s office who believe Cuomo’s bill is merely meant to placate the teacher’s union, which is said to be dead-set against the complete removal of LIFO. The United Federation of Teachers is said to be tentatively backing Cuomo’s bill and are carefully reviewing the governor’s proposal.