Jul 15, 2011

End LIFO In Minnesota [Or, I Will Lie To You]

Jill Schoenberg is the author and creator of the award-winning Journal Buddies books for kids. She attended the University of Minnesota and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Youth Studies and Sociology. Her professional experience includes more than seven years of working directly with young people – helping them to understand and strengthen their self-esteem, creative talents and life-skills. She is passionate about helping kids to be their best and to achieve excellence in education and every area of their lives.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican leaders in the legislature appear to be on track toward a compromise over the state budget.

With stakes so high, it's no surprise that many important policy initiatives will be left on the table when the budget is finalized. Nevertheless, there are some policy measures that are too important to leave behind, no matter the challenging circumstances we find ourselves in today.

One initiative that is currently being considered – it was in the omnibus education finance bill that Gov. Dayton vetoed - is a measure to end damaging 'Last-in, First-out', seniority-based teacher layoffs ("LIFO").

The way LIFO works is it mandates that when teacher layoffs occur due to budget shortfalls, an educator’s length of service trumps job performance in deciding who stays and who goes.

This outdated practice does not make sense. Teachers are so important to a student's success in the classroom. Research shows that when a LIFO policy is in force, more highly effective teachers are lost, districts tend to require a steeper number of layoffs and the most disadvantaged schools are disproportionately affected. Policymakers, including the governor, are in a position to end LIFO in Minnesota by making sure it is a part of the final budget package.

Minnesota lawmakers should do the right thing here in the home stretch. Don't fail us now, more importantly - don't fail our kids.

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