Summary: Legislation designed to keep our best teachers in the classroom by ending seniority-based “bumping” will receive a hearing before the Senate Education Committee at the State House this Wednesday, April 2 at 4:30 pm. We are looking for supporters to attend this meeting, and for people who have direct experience with bumping to testify. See below for details.
Our public meeting at King Elementary last October produced a spontaneous and vigorous outcry from many of you against “bumping”, the process by which senior teachers displace junior teachers, with no consideration being given to teacher quality or the needs of the students in the classroom.
At that meeting, Senator Rhoda Perry and House Majority Leader Gordon Fox both offered to introduce legislation to eliminate bumping. The ESPEC steering committee submitted a bill to each of them. The bill, which is patterned after current Massachusetts law, has the following goals:
1. Eliminate the provision of state law requiring that all layoffs must be done in reverse order of seniority. Under the bill, seniority could remain a criterion under negotiated contracts, but contracts could specify that merit be among the considerations.
2. Require that each district evaluate teachers, principals and administrators according to standards developed by the RI Department of Education, which may be supplemented by standards developed by district school committees. Currently, Rhode Island is one of a handful of states which do not, by state law, establish teacher evaluation requirements.
3. Allow principals to demote or dismiss teachers, subject to review by the superintendent of the district. The bill lays out the criteria for dismissal including the failure to meet performance standards, and preserves rights of appeal to the Commissioner of Education.
Senator Perry has introduced the bill in the Senate. The full text of the bill can be found here. We learned this weekend that Senate Education Committee is scheduled to take up the bill in a hearing beginning at 4:30 pm on Wednesday, April 2nd.
ESPEC steering committee members plan to attend the hearing and testify in support of the bill. We also have a few parents lined up who will speak about their experiences with excellent teachers being lost to bumping, but we are hoping to find a few more who can do the same. If you are interested in doing so, please email me.
Those who do not wish to testify, but would like to turn out to show support for this legislation, should meet in front of the library on the second floor of the State House at 4:15 on Wednesday. You should know that these hearings sometimes run for several hours, and we are not yet sure where on the agenda this bill will be placed.
Majority Leader Fox also submitted a bill to the House last week, but it is considerably different from the model we submitted. We are studying the bill and hope to discuss it with Leader Fox soon. We are not aware that any hearings have been scheduled on this bill.