Senator shares plans to change firing laws with teachers

Nov 8, 2011 by

Utah lawmakers are no strangers to tweaking education policy. But one freshman senator is taking an uncommon approach before he introduces a bill that could reshape the way teachers are fired and paid in Utah. He is asking teachers for their advice.

On Monday, more than 100 teachers from Box Elder to Davis counties shared their frustrations, hopes and a few tears with Sen. Aaron Osmond, a South Jordan Republican. It was the first of four listening sessions Osmond has planned with teachers this week, including stops in school districts in Granite and Iron counties plus a conference call to Logan.

“If after all this feedback we find that we are pursuing the wrong path, I am willing to back away from it and pursue another one,” Osmond said Monday at the Weber district office. “That’s my commitment to you.”

With the backing of the State Board of Education, Osmond hopes to recast teacher employment laws to make it simpler for school districts to fire ineffective teachers.

Under current law, after three to five years in the classroom, Utah teachers may attain career status, which means they can still be fired but only after due process. Osmond wants to eliminate laws that require “orderly termination” in public schools, require that districts create their own policies to remediate or fire teachers and replace career status with five-year “at-will” contracts that districts could choose not to renew without providing cause. He also wants to add performance-based bonuses to teachers’ pay systems.

But teachers at the meeting in South Ogden expressed skepticism about his plans. Some said the new contracts would allow good teachers to be let go for arbitrary reasons, such as not appeasing parents who demand higher grades for their students. Many worried the changes could hinder districts’ ability to recruit and retain quality teachers.

via Senator shares plans to change firing laws with teachers | The Salt Lake Tribune.

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