Teacher layoff reform bill dies in Legislature

Mar 2, 2011

A proposal to base teacher layoffs on performance - and not seniority - has died in the Washington legislature. The bill's demise is a victory for the state’s teacher's union, but a frustrating defeat for some lawmakers. 

Currently, when school districts reduce staff newer more junior teachers typically lose their jobs first. A bipartisan proposal in the Washington legislature would have changed that.

Instead of years in the classroom, lay-offs would have been based on a teacher's last two performance evaluations.

State Representative Reuven Carlyle, a Seattle Democrat, was one of the co-sponsors. He argues the time was right for a new approach:

"We're going to lay-off hundreds and hundreds of teachers likely in this budget for next year. It's a mistake, in my personal view to do so on one criteria only which is seniority based."

But the bill faced opposition from principals, superintendents and school boards not to mention the Washington Education Association.

Union spokesman Rich Wood says the message to lawmakers was: focus on how to protect school funding and leave the decision on how to layoff teachers to local districts.

The conversation about seniority-based layoffs has been among the issues in the forefront of education reform nationally and locally in recent years.