By Victor Skinner
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Education reformers in Missouri plan to propose an amendment to the state constitution that would eliminate teacher tenure and mandate performance-based evaluations.
A reform group called TeachGreat.org turned in petition language to the Missouri Secretary of State recently in hopes of putting several changes to the constitution up for a public vote in November 2014, the News Tribune reports.
The proposal would change current law in several ways.
Public school teachers would be “at will” employees of the state, instead of earning tenure protection after five years of service.
The proposal would limit teacher contracts to three years, and also require districts to create performance-based teacher evaluations “based upon quantifiable student performance data as measured by objective criteria,” the news site reports.
Lastly, the proposed changes lay out the legal reasons for changing a teacher’s employment status, beyond the evaluation system, such as a physical or mental condition, immoral conduct, incompetence, inefficiency, insubordination, unreasonable absence, or conviction of certain crimes, the News Tribune reports.
“Over the last several years, (there have been) lots of advances made in (how) to evaluate how teachers are performing,” Kate Casas, director of Children’s Education Council of Missouri and former teacher, told the news site.
“With the ability to create those kinds of evaluations for teachers, it seems like the next logical step is to make sure that Missouri is using these kinds of evaluations to determine who should be in the classroom … to make sure we’re protecting great teachers.”
The Missouri National Education Association opposes the changes because it forces local districts to use performance-based teacher evaluations that rely on student test scores. MNEA President Chris Guinther groaned about the proposal “attacking teachers” and pointed to reasons outside the classroom as “the real problems facing our schools,” the News Tribune reports.
Casas, however, points out that the new evaluations only ask teachers to demonstrate what they’re hired to do: make academic progress with students.
“You’re really looking at how much growth did each kid in that classroom have in that school year? … No matter where the kids come to you, your job as a teacher is to move them forward.”