Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed a bill on teacher seniority Thursday that was authored by Sen. Pam Wolf (R-51), who represents part of Fridley.
Wolf's bill, to teacher-union criticism, in February. It would end "last-in, first-out" (LIFO) seniority rules for teacher layoffs.
In a veto letter (see PDF), Dayton said Republican legislators "denigrate" teachers, and he derided the bill as "yet another example of this prejudice against public school teachers. Once again, they are singled out as 'the problem,' for which some legislators' solution is to override the long-established rights of local school boards and teachers' elected representatives to negotiate the terms of their employment and their dismissals."
In a statement, Wolf defended her bill:
“We worked in a bipartisan manner to draft a bill that benefits Minnesota’s teachers and students. When schools are able to retain good teachers, a child’s learning experience is greatly enhanced. As the policy stands, experience does not equal seniority. LIFO reform would have opened doors for effective, experienced teachers to move to schools where their skills are needed without the fear of being laid off for lack of seniority. Reforming the current LIFO system would have given our schools the tools they need to attract and retain effective educators who can provide our children with quality education. ...
"I am disappointed that Governor Dayton values partisan politics and special interests more than he values Minnesota’s school children. Along with legendary Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton, I hoped that ‘the governor would turn some attention to something far more important than football: our public schools and a failed policy that’s hurting our kids.’ The governor failed to act on the opportunity to make sure we have the best teachers in our schools to educate the next generation of Minnesotans.”
(Wolf's statement quoted an op-ed column by Tarkenton supporting her bill that appeared in the St. Paul Pioneer Press last month.)