Teacher tenure amendment faces strong opposition
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Teacher tenure amendment faces strong opposition

Date: October 22, 2014
By: Nicole Shaddy
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Public school teachers would lose some of their job protections under one of the issues on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Amendment 3 would replace traditional teacher tenure with a process that would include performance evaluations. These evaluations would take student achievement into account when deciding on pay raises and dismissals.

The amendment would also limit teacher contracts to three years or less, and it would restrict teachers from bargaining collectively when it comes to their evaluations.

Protect Our Local Schools, a coalition opposing the amendment, said on its website that multiple state education organizations oppose the amendment and more than 100 school districts have passed resolutions against it.

One of these education organizations is the Missouri National Education Association. Chief Lobbyist Otto Fajen said the amendment hurts both teachers and students alike.

"I think that's the main concern is it's going to hurt education in Missouri," Fajen said. "It's completely the wrong direction, completely the wrong approach to take away local control on these core elements on how you move for excellence."

Fajen said the amendment would push educators to teach to standardized tests. He also said teachers would have less of a voice because of the evaluations.  

"I think it declares that teachers have to be essentially bereft of that kind of process of fairness," Fajen said. "It basically says that they're kind of at the mercy of employers."   

The coalition Teach Great was the major supporter of the amendment in its early stages, but the coalition disbanded in September. In a written statement, Teach Great Spokeswoman Kate Casas said their campaign was called off because they realized it was not the right time to support the amendment.

Sen. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, sponsored a bill in this year's legislative session that would have enacted performance-based salaries for teachers, but it died in committee. Emery said he agrees with the amendment.

"It tries to shift the focus on how well, how effective the teacher is rather than just how long the teacher has been there, and I think that's good in any environment no matter what you're looking at," Emery said.

Emery said this amendment would allow school districts to reward the best teachers.

"I just believe that a good differentiation always facilitates performance because the people that are doing the best are the ones that should be recognized so that others can see what they're doing and hopefully become just as good of performers," Emery said.

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