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Seniority Layoffs Preserved In Minnesota, Debated in Missouri

Layoffs by seniority continue to be one of the touchiest issues in teacher-quality policy, as recent action in Pittsburgh and Rhode Island show, often pitting teachers' unions against groups that argue that such rules negatively impact students by not taking performance into account.

This week saw more action, this time at the state level, on this most sensitive of topics. In Minnesota, Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, vetoed a bill that would have done away with seniority-based layoffs. Groups such as StudentsFirst and MinnCAN supported the measure, as did most Republicans, according to the Star-Tribune.

As I've mentioned before, the American Federation of Teachers in particular seems caught in a little bit of a bind on this, being for evaluation reform but cagier on attaching consequences to the results of such systems. In general AFT officials say they think seniority should be used for layoffs, unless and until fair evaluation systems are developed—fair being, obviously, in the eye of the beholder. In Minnesota's case, new evaluations don't come online until 2015-16. (Education Minnesota, the state teachers' union, is a merged AFT-NEA affiliate).

The Missouri house, meanwhile, narrowly approved a bill to end seniority-based layoffs in that state, according to the Associated Press. It moves next to the Senate. Lobbying in that state is no doubt every bit as intense as it's been in Minnesota.

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