Michigan appeals court says state lacks power in teacher layoff decisions
- A Michigan Appeal Court voted 3-0 that the state does not have a say in teacher employment.
- The decision comes in response to a slew of 2011 bills that watered down the power of the state's teacher union, affecting the employment and insurance coverage of many public school employees.
- The case centered around the previous layoffs of seven educators in Reed City Area Public Schools, which were the result of budget cuts and the elimination of certain subjects.
The ruling may stop future lawsuits, according to Cadillac News, as it helps illuminate the inner-workings of the 2011 bills and better explain the state's hiring and firing laws. For a long time, seniority was the topic surrounding hiring and firing, but in recent years—specifically after the contentious Vergara v California ruling—the topic has changed to performance.
One topic that came up during the Vergara case is how the focus shouldn't be on firing poor-performing teachers, but rather attracting high-performing teachers. "Reducing job security may sound like a cheap way to improve teacher quality. But without some of the costlier changes necessary to make the most difficult teaching jobs more appealing to the most desirable workers, it seems unlikely to be the silver bullet school reformers are hoping for," Catherine Rampell wrote for the Washington Post after the ruling, which found teacher tenure to be unconstitutional on the basis that the state of California's current tenure laws disproportionately have a negative impact on poor and minority students.