A Bill to End Last In, First Out
February 24th, 2011
The city will likely get behind a bill introduced yesterday by a Long Island State senator that seeks to change the rules for laying off teachers n the state, Micah Lasher, the city’ director of state legislative affairs said this afternoon.
The bill, offered by Sen. John Flanagan, the chair of the State Senate education committee offers the first idea of what the city might accept as an alternative to the current system where the most junior teachers must be the first ones laid off. The bill — 3501-2011 — sets out nine groups of teachers that would lose their jobs before seniority based layoff kick in. These include teachers found guilty of criminal charges or various types of misconduct. But it also takes aim at some teachers targeted by the administration in the past, including those given ratings of unsatisfactory and those who have not had a regular position for at least six months — the so-called absent teacher reserve pool.
The bill also brings test scores into the equation, something that has long been anathema to the union. It says teachers could be laid off it they “for two years or more, ranked in the bottom 30 percent of all teachers in student test scores progress as measured by the city school district’s value-added assessment except for teachers who work in licenses related to teaching children with disabilities or special needs.” (If we hear a response from the teachers union, we’ll pass it along.)
Speaking at a conference on the State of the City today, Lasher said the administration had originally hoped to essentially eliminate seniority in layoff decisions, leaving it up to principals “to decide who they can most easily part with.”
But he said that turned out to be a “political non-starter Albany.”
As to the Flanagan bill, which still lets seniority enter the picture and rather than leaving it to principals sets down pretty specific rules, is seen likely to win passage in the Senate, according to the Post. There, it has the backing of Majority Leader Dean Skelos, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s large donations to the Senate Republican majority probably won’t hurt either.
The assembly, though, will pose greater challenges. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has long been an ally of the teachers, as have many of the bodyís other Democrats.
Bloomberg began his push for a change in the layoff rules last year but temporarily dropped the issue when the city averted any teacher layoffs. With Bloomberg saying state budget cuts will force him to eliminate 6,166 teaching positions — 4,666 through lay off– is has reared its head again.
Last in, first out has become enmeshed in the budget discussion, even though it remains unclear exactly how much money changing it would save. Testifying before the legislature last week, schools Chancellor Cathie Black By Gail Robinson on February 24, 2011, 2:45 pm
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