I am talking to Michelle Rhee later today about the role her new organization StudentsFirst played in the passage of what she calls the “Teacher Lifo” bill.
While “Lifo” refers to the Last In-First Out policy of teacher layoffs, I always thing of something else when I hear the acronym.
I think it sounds like the Teacher Lipo bill, meaning liposuction.
And some teachers might argue that the bill passed yesterday by the Georgia House does make a large sucking sound. After a quick review by the Senate, Senate Bill 184 goes to Gov. Nathan Deal, who is expected to sign it with great delight.
In essence, SB 184 requires local school systems to use teacher performance as the primary factor when deciding layoffs. Supporters argue that the policy change will give job security to the best educators and give mediocre teachers reason to improve. Seniority is no longer a consideration in who gets the boot in a budget crunch.
Rhee and her group have made the elimination of Lifo a major thrust and she was here earlier in the year to meet with legislators and the governor about it. She is due back in Atlanta Thursday evening for a Spelman College panel at 6:30 at the Sisters Chapel.
This morning I received a note from a Georgia teacher that raises good questions about this bill and others like it around the country. Here is the teacher’s note:
Ms. Downey, As an educator for a number of years, I am intrigued by the current discussion about “good vs. bad” teachers. I think that the biggest problem is there is not a standard to be compared to. How do you judge good or bad? What is an educated child? I’ve run into students that I’ve taught who hold jobs, have families, pay taxes and are good members of the community. I have former students in jail. I have former students thank me for what I did while they were in my class. I have students who are indifferent to me and I have students who don’t care for me even years after they were in my class. How am I to decide if I’m doing a good job?
I think it is a simple question with complicated answers. How should we decide?
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog