Group Working to Eliminate Tenure for Missouri Teachers

By Jonathan Cooper |

Published 04/01 2014 06:10PM

Updated 04/02 2014 08:30AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) It's a simple petition. But if it gets enough signatures and then voted on, it could create big changes for teachers in Missouri.

"There is a group of people that would like to end tenure in the state of Missouri for public school teachers," said John Schlange, an educator in the St. Joseph School District. "For the first five years, teachers are at will, after their sixth contract, they have to be fired with cause."

The group is part of an organization called Teach Great. They have started the petition to gain support. Supporters are asking the state to eliminate tenure for public school teachers to make it easier to evaluate their performance.

As part of their proposal, teachers would be evaluated every year based on their student's growth.

Kate Casas works for the Children's Education Council of Missouri, a group who supports these changes.

"What we assume would be a very small number, who are not producing results year after year, it would be easier to cancel them out and start another career," said Casas.

A similar bill was introduced in the Missouri Legislature but was unsuccessful.

But now, if the group can get more than 200,000 signatures by May 4 and gain support from six of the eight congressional districts in the state, the proposal will appear on November's ballot.

Over the weekend, supporters worked to gain signatures by camping out in front of stores around town. But despite their efforts, some strongly oppose the proposal.

"The initiative petition is not good for teachers," Schlange said. "It's not good for public education."

Schlange is an an active member of the Missouri State Teacher's Association. MSTA, along with other teacher organizations oppose this proposal.

"It would have all the evaluations tied to student achievement, which is difficult because every year is different, all the students are different," Schlange said. "The same teacher can do the same material and get different outcomes on the tests."

Supporters of the proposal say it will help public education in the state and keep good teachers employed.

Teach Great will continue to gather signatures as their deadline approaches.

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