Teacher Tenure, Evaluation Will Appear on Missouri Ballots In November
By guest blogger Madeline Will
Teacher tenure has been a hotly-contested issue across the country recentlyand come November, Missouri voters will be deciding for themselves how it will play out in their state.
A proposal for a constitutional amendment to weaken tenure laws and tie teacher evaluations to students' performance gathered enough signatures to be placed on the ballot in the November general election, Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander announced Tuesday.
The proposal, which will appear as Constitutional Amendment 3, would require teachers to be dismissed, promoted, and paid based on the results of a teacher-evaluation system "primarily" based on "quantifiable student performance data." Each district's system would have to be approved by the state to be funded. Teachers' unions, meanwhile, would be prohibited from altering the evaluation system through collective bargaining.
The measure would also limit teachers' employment contracts with districts to three years.
Teach Great, the group behind the ballot measure, contends that the measure will reward good teachers, support struggling teachers, and make it easier for schools to hire teachers. Opponents, which include the Missouri National Education Association and the Missouri State Teachers Association, call the measure a "one-size-fits-all approach" that would cost money and create more standardized tests.
It's worth noting that the state has already invested significant time and resources in teacher evaluation. In 2012, lawmakers passed a bill requiring an overhaul of the state's teacher-evaluation standards, and the state's board of education, in 2013, approved a model districts could choose to use. The system requires teachers to show evidence of student learning, though not necessarily through standardized-test scores.
In June, two Missouri teachers filed a legal challenge to the proposed amendment, arguing that it's unconstitutional because it would alter two parts of the constitution (both education and collective bargaining), the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported.
This looks like it will shape up to be a heated battle in the coming months.
We're already seeing that to some extent now in Missouri with the buzzword local controlsupporters of the amendment say control is going back to local school boards and administrators, and opponents say control is going away from school districts and to state politicians.