Teaching Profession

Arizona Takes on Seniority

By Stephen Sawchuk — December 02, 2009 1 min read

A few weeks back, I mused whether we’d see more state and local action to review seniority provisions, since it seemed like states were doing a lot on evaluation and pay, but not the related issue of seniority. Somehow I missed the action in Arizona.

A state law that recently took effect there prohibits seniority or tenure from being considered when teachers are laid off and also does away with “recall rights.”

It would also give districts flexibility to select which teachers’ salaries to reduce, rather than applying a general salary reduction.

It isn’t clear from the local news coverage whether this is part of the state’s effort to qualify for the Race to the Top, which puts a heavy emphasis on teacher performance. But it does align nicely with the federal initiative. It also comes as a example of the power states have to regulate policies that affect teachers, something that the National Council on Teacher Quality reminds us about every year.

The local teachers’ union complains that the changes were passed by the legislature without any public comment or debate. I’m not convinced that that argument is going to win a lot of supporters, given that unions themselves have pushed “midnight provisions” elsewhere, as with New York’s tenure law.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.