The Oshkosh School District didn’t make many changes to their employee handbook after Act 10, but one key difference will help keep the strongest teachers in the classroom regardless of experience.
The school board will vote tonight to approve a handbook that allows administrators to take employee performance into account rather than just experience when layoffs are necessary. This means that tenure will no longer be the defining influence when it comes to cutting staff. As a result, strong, young teachers will have more job security than ever before in Oshkosh’s public schools.
This change is something that we aren’t just seeing in Oshkosh. Chicago’s public schools recently approved a program – with local teacher union support – that would operate on a similar basis; retaining good teachers instead of just tenured ones. A similar program has gained support in Washington state as well.
This shift was made possible by Act 10. The city had delayed the effects of the bill by extending their existing union contract an extra year in 2011. When that expired, the district was able to use the tools contained within to implement this reform that values performance over tenure. The district will also implement teacher contributions towards health care and pension benefits for the first time in the coming year.
This reform is a simple but effective way to treat teachers fairly based on merit. Administrators will have more power to keep quality teachers in their schools. When that happens, it cultivates a culture of strength and success. However, the true winners in this scenario are the students who will get the opportunity to learn under the best teachers the district has to offer, regardless of experience.