To retain teachers of color, an Oregon bill takes aim at schools’ ‘first in, last out’ layoff policies –

Kotek’s solution would rewrite state rules that dictate who’s on the chopping block if and when school districts face layoffs. House Bill 2001 would amend Oregon statutes that prioritize seniority, Kotek and the bill’s backers say, in an effort to retain educators of color who tend to be newer to the profession than their white co-workers.

The proposed legislation would allow districts to retain educators of color if doing so helps maintain the school’s ratio of teacher diversity. It would also allow an administrator to retain educators who have “more merit” than those who qualify for seniority protections.

To say this is unhelpful doesn’t begin to capture it. 

Nam told the House Education Committee he fears alterations to the state’s “first in, last out” policy that directs how schools conduct layoffs will give administrators a tool to oust vocal critics.

“It’s also part of a larger ploy by employers to get rid of older workers who are more costly in pay and health care benefits while replacing them with younger and precarious workers,” he said.

I don’t know if “precarious” is a misquote or what because it doesn’t make sense in this context, but Nam is certainly right that districts attempt to rid themselves of older, more experienced, more expensive teachers. 

The text of the bill redefines “Merit”—the new criterion for judging who gets laid off—this way:

“Merit” means the measurement of the ability and effectiveness of one teacher, as measured against the ability and effectiveness of another teacher, based on consideration of any of the following factors:

(A) Any languages spoken by the teacher that are not English;

(B) Years the teacher has taught in schools where at least 25 percent of the student population is diverse;

(C) Training received by the teacher related to antibias, diversity, equity, inclusion, culturally responsive practices or restorative justice practices; or

(D) Participation by the teacher in any programs, plans or practices implemented to advance the goal of the Educators Equity Act described in ORS 342.437, including receipt by the teacher of a scholarship for culturally and linguistically diverse teacher candidates as provided by ORS 348.295 or participation by the teacher in professional development to increase
educator diversity.

This has far more to do with pushing a political agenda than it does any sort of “merit.” And ironically, Erin, with her pale Irish skin and heritage, actually fares incredibly well under these standards. She’s fluent in French, has taught almost 20 years in a school with a 25+ percent minority student population, and has received all kinds of diversity training. 

That doesn’t mean the bill is not horrible offensive. It really is.