LANSING (WWJ) – Michigan lawmakers heard from a controversial educator who told a joint House-Senate subcommittee the state is taking “courageous” steps toward education reform, but there is still much work to be done. 

Michelle Rhee, former head of Washington D.C. schools, lashed out at the long-standing practice of laying off teachers based on seniority, known as “LIFO” or “last in, first out”.

When districts with “LIFO” conduct layoffs, they fire some of their most effective educators,who Rhee refers to as the “memorable and powerful teachers students remember for the rest of their lives.”

Rhee explained how “LIFO” layoffs impact lower-income school districts the most.

“These schools have larger numbers of new teachers who are the first to lose their jobs in layoffs,” Rhee said. “High income areas have more stable systems, and fewer new teachers and they’re often untouched by budget cuts. Meanwhile low-income, high-needs schools where a large percentage of the staff are newer teachers, are decimated.”

“By eliminating LIFO, Michigan would help to hold districts, boards of education and state legislators accountable. By disallowing it across the state, Michigan would be able to save many great teachers during this economic recovery,” Rhee continued.

Rhee left the D.C. school district last year, unable, she said, to “wish away the influence of politics in education.” She now heads the private policy group


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