Governor Rick Snyder has signed a law that will make it easier for school districts to fire teachers in classrooms where students are struggling. It also eliminates discipline and layoff rules as a subject of collective bargaining with teachers unions.
The governor says seniority is an outdated system for deciding which teachers are laid off first, and where they should work.
"We need a performance-based system that recognizes the very best that teachers can deliver and gives them good recognition and reward for those opportunities and that's what this is all about," said Snyder. "It's about moving forward and stop looking at a broken world of the past."
School employee unions say the new law will remove critical job protections and lead to districts getting rid of veteran teachers for financial rather than academic reasons.
Louise Somalski, with the American Federation of Teachers, says the new law takes away teachers’ rights to bargain for job protections as school districts face growing financial pressures.
"I’m afraid that when it comes right down to it, there so tight on money at the local school district level because funding has been cut, that the most-experienced teachers are going to be let go – and we want the most-experienced teachers with the kids and it's going to hurt the students in the long run."
A commission will make specific recommendations to the Legislature next year on how to measure teacher performance.
The new rules will take effect at the beginning of the school year that begins in the fall of 2012.