Missouri Votes to Keep Teacher Tenure


This week, voters in Missouri overwhelmingly weighed in against a proposed amendment that would have made test scores the main factor in teacher evaluations and scrapped tenure for renewable 3-year contracts.

A large number of teacher groups, statewide education associations and school board were against the amendment and took a vocal, active stand against it. Even the group that drove the proposal, Teach Great, backed off before the vote, stating the timing wasn’t right, writes Claudette Riley for News-Leader.

Rex Sinquefield, who funded $1.6 million to the campaign, backed the group. However, they dropped all campaign suddenly after poor results in pre-polling.

“I’m thrilled the voters saw through this blatant attempt to influence education across Missouri,” said Andy Hosmer, Springfield Public Schools board vice president. “This was a situation where no one thought this was a good idea.”

If the proposal had passed, teacher contracts would be limited to three years, which would have done away with tenure. More testing would be expected of students and collective bargaining over teacher evaluations would be prohibited.

More than 50 percent of teacher evaluations would be based on standardized testing. Teachers’ salaries would be based on the performance of their students.

Supporters of the bill assert that the proposal would give districts more control in order to reward good teachers and eliminate the bad ones, reports Alex Stuckey for St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Teachers say the proposal would have pushed them to teach the test – and even then the outcome may not be fair due to students who don’t perform well on tests regardless of the instruction quality, writes Summer Ballentine for The State.

“I just think it’s too broad and an arbitrary way to judge performance,” said 52-year-old Laura Lynch of Kansas City, a creative director and Democrat.

The testing also would have cost state billions of dollars.

Teachers’ efforts to spread the word about the negative ramifications of the proposal proved to be successful, according to Kittilu Maxson, president of the Springfield National Education Association, who celebrated the defeat of the amendment.

“That tells us communities want to make the decisions about their public schools,” she said.

John Jungmann, the Springfield Superintendent, said the results show that the people of Missouri want to keep control of schools local.

“This came down to protecting what we believe is important for students, to make decisions at the local level,” he said.