Gist: No More Seniority-Based Teacher Hiring
Dropping a bombshell on Rhode Island’s teacher unions, state Education Commissioner Deborah Gist announced Friday that districts must abolish seniority as a method of assigning teachers.
Gist, in a letter to all superintendents Thursday, said the Board of Regents’ new Basic Education Plan, which takes effect in July 2010, requires that highly effective educators work with students who have significant achievement gaps.
“In my view,” she wrote in a press release, “no system that bases teacher assignments solely on seniority can comply with this new regulation.”
The state has 12,000 public school teachers who are represented by one of two unions, the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Care Professionals or the National Education Association, Rhode Island.
The Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Care Professionals has already promised to take Gist to court, claiming that she has exceeded her authority under state and federal law.
I think Gist is willing to fight them on that. No more seniority, pushing for higher teacher standards, taking a hands-on approach….Gist has been impressive so far.
UPDATE: Gist talked to Dan Yorke and explained that this is not a “bomb” and she is doing nothing more than explaining an aspect of the Basic Education Plan that everyone should have realized. Further, she thought it unfortunate that union leaders were trying to use it as a wedge issue between herself and teachers. (Incidentally, lest we forget, Gist was a teacher of the year….).