What the Sunshine State can learn from Georgia
It’s an exciting time in the Peach State, as Georgia is on the road to eliminating seniority-based layoffs—and is doing so in a smart, constructive manner to boot. See, Georgia’s law would create a flexible plan for performance evaluation, mandating that local school and district managers revamp teacher-evaluation systems, but allowing them the flexibility to determine what those systems will look like. SB 184 sets three basic policies: Local school boards can no longer use length of tenure as the “primary or sole determining factor” in layoff decisions; performance should be the primary determining factor in making these layoffs (and “one measure of [teachers’ skills] may be student academic performance”); effective professional development must be identified by 2015 to help all teachers improve their craft. This approach provides a strong model for Georgia’s neighbor to the Southeast. Instead of pushing forward a broad framework for reductions in force while empowering districts to work out the details locally, Florida’s recently enacted SB 736 mandates state-level salary structures, establishes a learning growth model to measure teacher effectiveness, and limits district freedoms when it comes to letting teachers go. Kudos to Georgia for their smart thinking. Let’s hope the Gators take heed.
“Performance trumps seniority for teachers in House vote,” by April Hunt and Nancy Badertscher, Atlanta Journal Constitution, April 11, 2011.
“Florida’s Senate Bill 736: With ‘Wins’ Like These…,” by Rick Hess, Straight Up Blog, April 4, 2011.
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