‘Last in, first out’ work rules cost Michigan high school a top-notch band instructor

Jul 12, 2013 by

LANSING, Mich. – A new education reform law wasn’t enough to save one talented Michigan high school teacher from the effects of “last in, first out,” an antiquated union work rule that bases teacher layoffs on seniority.

LansingCityPulse.com reports that 11-year band teacher Ben Baldwin is leaving his post with Lansing Everett High School because he wasn’t guaranteed a job when school starts up in the fall.

Baldwin was one of the 140 district teachers who received layoff notices this spring, simply because they had less seniority than their co-workers. A layoff notice doesn’t automatically mean a teacher is going to be out of a job – that’s determined later when the district budget is sorted out – but it was a risk Baldwin says he couldn’t take.

As a result, Baldwin is taking his skills – which have helped the high school’s band program earn national honors – to another school.

Lansing school officials say they hate to see him go, and plan to change the district’s layoff policy so other highly valued teachers aren’t shoved out the door unfairly.

The district is expected to finally put a 2011 state reform law into effect, which bases teacher layoffs on performance instead of longevity.

District officials couldn’t implement the new law until their contract with the local teachers union expired, reports LansingCityPulse.com.


But that contract died earlier this month, and the Lansing school board plans to officially ratify the new policy soon.

But that will be too little, too late for Emily Barshaw, one of Baldwin’s former students, who is deeply saddened by his departure.

“He was just an amazing leader. I always thought if there was an apocalypse, where people needed a hero or a leader, he would be the person to turn to,” the 16-year-old told the news site.

“It’s hard to imagine anyone comparing to Mr. Baldwin.”

Baldwin, who played in the United States Marine Corps Band, “brought the Marines’ sense of pride, honor and discipline to the Everett Marching Band,” reports the City Pulse.

“I love this band dearly,” Baldwin said.

“I wish I could stay, but the circumstances have led to change, and it’s a change I have to make.”

Hopefully, these kinds of stories become increasingly rare as “last in, first out” rides off into the sunset.

‘Last in, first out’ work rules cost Michigan high school a top-notch band instructor – EAGnews.org powered by Education Action Group Foundation, Inc..

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