Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wednesday Report from MIRS News Service RE: Tenure Bills in the House

Tenure Bills Readied For Passage
a) changes made to the bill are highlighted in red
b) a failed amendment made by our area House Representative, Lisa Brown, which is SUPPORTIVE of educators is in GREEN
The "arbitrary and capricious" standard for teacher tenure hearings would be reinstated and the LIFO (last in, first out) standard for teacher layoffs would end under changes made to teacher tenure reform legislation in the House today.

The legislation (HB 4625, HB 4626, HB 4627 and HB 4628) that moved up to Third Reading today allows a new teacher who receives a very high rating in three straight evaluations to "fast track" becoming tenured.

Rep. Bill ROGERS (R-Brighton), the sponsor of HB 4625, offered the substitute. This substitute was adopted on a quick gavel.

Two Democratic-sponsored amendments were gaveled on. One offered by Rep. David RUTLEDGE (D-Ypsilanti) would require school districts to inform teachers by at least 15 days prior to the end of a school year that they weren't going to be coming back the following year.

Rep. Tim MELTON (D-Auburn Hills) sponsored the other successful amendment. It would give teachers who receive an ineffective rating on an evaluation a second try before being placed on probationary status.

"I don't think anyone in this room wants to see incompetent teachers practicing, incompetent doctors or incompetent attorneys," said Rep. Steven LINDBERG (D-Marquette), arguing against the legislation. "But before we take someone's license to practice away, they should have due process."

"It is my opinion that the state's tenure law is not broken," Lindberg continued. "It would work if administrators took a role in evaluating our teachers."

Rep. Paul SCOTT (R-Grand Blanc), chair of the House Education Committee argued that the state's tenure law is indeed broken and needs fixing.

"Even when administrators do their job, the Tenure Commission can and does reverse them," Scott said. "As we saw in committee, with an example like the one in my district where a Swartz Creek teacher who had been clinically found psychologically unfit was sent back to the classroom" (See "Tenure Board Horror Story Shared To Panel," 4/26/11).

"A vote against this legislation is a vote to allow ineffective teachers to get tenure as a right," Scott concluded.

Committee testimony on the legislation included several "horror" stories where, if accurate, the state's current tenure law sticks school districts with "problem" teachers to the extent that issues such as academic performance have become virtually irrelevant (See "Tenure LIFO Bills Move," 5/18/11).

An amendment offered by House Minority Leader Kate SEGAL (D-Battle Creek) to break the tie bar between the bills was defeated on a 47-62 vote, with Rep. Ed McBROOM (R-Vulcan) voting with the 46 Democrats. Rep. Harold HAUGH (D-Roseville) is still out-of-action following back surgery.

Rep. Lisa BROWN (D-West Bloomfield) offered a substitute for HB 4625 that would basically gut the bill, with exception of the accelerated timetable for the tenure process.

This substitute fell on a 47-62 vote, with Rep. Phil POTVIN (R-Cadillac) voting along with the 46 Democrats.

Please urge representatives to vote NO on these bills. The bills are tie-barred, meaning they will pass ALL or NONE of them. Proceed to Monday's posting below to get phone numbers and email addresses.