Teacher tenure changes: Little concern in local school districts

Local school district officials said they aren't overly concerned about new laws that put the focus more on teacher performance than on length of service. Michigan is one of a growing number of states that have passed legislation that weakens tenure protection - once almost a given in the education field.
Marie Havenga
Jan 25, 2012

Scott Grimes, Grand Haven Area Public Schools’ assistant superintendent for human services, said because the district had a collective bargaining agreement in place when the state passed legislation in July, that changes will affect Grand Haven teachers beginning Sept. 1.

“It will drastically change how our district and all districts do layoff and recall procedures, because those are currently based on seniority,” Grimes said. “In the future, it will be based on teacher effectiveness and the evaluations they get each year from building administrators.”

Teachers will now be evaluated annually instead of every three years.

“It may not affect us as much as other places because we have an outstanding group of teachers,” Grimes said. “I think it ups the ante and certainly raises the stakes on their evaluation."

Spring Lake Education Association President Laurie Draeger said Spring Lake Public Schools teachers are already operating under the new laws and not much has changed.

“I don’t think anybody would notice that there’s a single bit of difference at this point,” Draeger said. “We haven’t been in a situation where any decisions have been made based on the new law. You have to put a lot of trust in your school system to make sure you have the best people and that you’re doing whatever it takes to keep them teaching at the highest level.”

Like the Grand Haven district, Spring Lake teachers and administrators reviewed the evaluation process together.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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