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Missouri’s lawmakers introduced a bill that would eliminate teacher tenure and change the way teachers are evaluated and paid.
Currently, it takes a Missouri teacher five years to gain tenure, which is longer than any other state.
Once a teacher is given tenure, he or she cannot be removed from a school district without a legitimate reason for termination. According to teachers and administrators, teacher tenure provides greater protection for teachers.
Rep. Scott Dieckhaus, R-Washington, sponsored the bill that would ultimately eliminate teacher tenure in Missouri.
Dieckhaus and the bill’s supporters said this bill would prevent districts from having to keep ineffective teachers in their schools because of tenure.
According to Todd Fuller, the spokesperson for Missouri State Teacher’s Association, the five-year period before a teacher gains tenure is crucial. He says during this period administrators evaluate teachers and then determine whether they should be given tenure.
“What happens in that process or during that time is teachers have already, No. 1, decided if want to stay in that particular district or, No. 2, they and the administration have decided if that district is a good fit for that particular teacher,” he said.
Another major change under this bill would be the way teachers are evaluated. Student performance would determine 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation score, and the teacher’s pay would change accordingly.
Russell Smithson from Warrensburg has been a third grade teacher for 12 years. He said basing pay on student scores stifles teacher collaboration.
“If their pay is going to be based off of that, Susie down the hall is not going to share with Jim across the hall what she’s doing in her classroom that works really well,” Smithson said.
Missouri lawmakers expect to continue this debate over education reform throughout the legislative session.