Who do you want working for you?

Senate Bill 169 in the Nevada Legislature, introduced by state Sen. Don Gustavson, R-Sparks, would bump the bumping practice.

When layoffs have been necessary in local governments and schools most collective bargaining agreements have required a policy of last hired, first fired. SB169 would prohibit giving seniority more significance than merit or performance when deciding who gets laid off. In the past when layoffs happened the senior employees could "bump" more junior employees out of their jobs and take them.

Arguments for this bill can be found coast to coast. Today a columnist in The Wall Street Journal broached the subject when writing about the relative merits of education coverage by the tabloid New York Post and the revered New York Times.

“According to the U.S. Census, New York spends the most money per pupil of any state ($17,173 annually),” writes William McGurn. “Teacher pay and benefits also rank among the highest in the nation, with teachers able to retire in their 50s. For all this, the state’s education department acknowledges that fewer than 23% of the city’s high-school students will graduate ready for college. Nearly four out of 10 will never see a high-school diploma.

“Virtually every day, the Post carries some piece on why this is so: a bad teacher the system can’t get rid of, some inane rule or law that serves the adults in the system at the expense of the children, or some other story highlighting how the bad are rewarded while the good are punished. Of late, with teacher layoffs imminent, the paper has devoted special attention to the law that ensures the teachers who keep their jobs will do so because of seniority, not merit. It’s called LIFO — short for ‘last in, first out.’"

McGurn writes that lately the Post has written almost daily about LIFO and how it will have a devastating effect at a high-achieving Bronx school for math staffed predominantly by younger teachers.

Reminds one of the Los Angeles Times story about John H. Liechty Middle School in a poor part of town. When budget cuts required layoffs, seniority was all that counted. Liechty, once the top ranked school in the district for raising English and math scores plummeted, from first to 61st for English.

When it comes to public employees doing our public service, shouldn’t we keep those who perform instead of those who managed to hang on the longest?

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