Bill on teacher cuts doesn’t go far enough

Teacher cuts are bad enough for Oregon school districts. Choosing who gets cut based only on seniority can make matters worse.

When Beaverton School District cut 350 teachers last year, it only looked at seniority and which teachers were licensed to teach in new positions.

It ended up with economics teachers teaching P.E. and history teachers instructing algebra, Salem’s Statesman Journal reported.

That’s crazy.

State Rep. Mitch Greenlick, D-Portland, thought so, too, and he has proposed HB 2692 to change what criteria districts must use. The bill requires schools to consider “competence.”

Specifically, the bill would require that school districts “may not agree in any collective bargaining agreement to waive the right to consider competence in making decisions about the order of reduction in staff or recall of staff.”

That’s a good change.

And what’s encouraging is that the state’s largest teacher organization, the Oregon Education Association, also largely supports it. The OEA wants the definition of competency tweaked so it does not penalize teachers who took time off to raise a child or had to move because of layoffs.

But while Greenlick’s bill is good enough, it doesn’t go far enough.

Competence is about experience. It’s about years of work. It’s about training.

Those are undoubtedly important.

But the bill does not require that school districts consider a teacher’s relative effectiveness — in other words, how good a teacher is, relative to another teacher.

Why not?

There is nothing about seniority or this bill’s measure of competence that means that the best teacher winds up in the classroom.

The bill doesn’t touch effectiveness and that makes it of questionable effectiveness.