Georgia Senate Republicans got the 2012 General Assembly off to a quick start Monday, pushing through two education bills over objections from minority Democrats that they hadn’t received a proper airing.
With GOP senators providing most of the votes, the Senate gave final passage to bills prohibiting local school districts from firing teachers based on seniority and giving the state school superintendent the authority to hire his own staff.
The Republican-controlled Senate and state House of Representatives had passed both measures last year, but the two chambers hadn’t agreed on House changes to the bills before the 2011 session was gaveled to a close.
The teacher bill, which took up the lion’s share of Monday’s debate, prohibits local school systems from relying strictly on a “last-hired-first-fired” policy in trimming their payrolls without giving consideration to performance.
“We have teachers of the year who are fired because of this ridiculous policy,” said Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock. “We want the very best teachers in the classroom regardless of what day they were hired.”
But Democrats complained that the bills were being rushed through on the first day of a legislative session without giving interested parties, including teacher organizations, a chance to provide input.